Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema by Teresa de de Lauretis

By Teresa de de Lauretis

"There is infrequently a web page during this choice of hard-thought and brilliantly written essays that doesn't yield a few new insight." ―Hayden White

"... de Lauretis’s writing is brisk and refreshingly lucid." ―International movie Guide

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PROEMIUM It is customary to begin such epic tales with a classical verse as propitiatory invocation. Therefore: In the beginning was the word. In its earlier stages semiology was developed in the wake of Saussurian linguistics as a conceptual, analytical framework to study sign systems--or better, to study a certain functioning of certain elements, called signs, in the social production of meaning. In the Saussurian account, the system of language is defined by a double articulation of its elementary units, its signs, the smallest meaningful units of language (morphemes, roughly corresponding to words).

Pasolini's emphasis on inquadratura), images in motion which construct not only linear movement but also a depth, an accumulation of time and space that is essential to the meaning, the reading of the image(s). 12 At the conclusion of this phase of the debate Eco admitted that, if cinema as a language can be said to possess a triple articulation, film as discourse is constructed on, 44 I ALICE DOESN'T and puts into play, many other codes-verbal, iconographic, stylistic, perceptual, narrative. " 13 With the shift from the notion of language to the notion of discourse began to appear the limitations, theoretical and ideological, of the early semiological analyses.

1964), taking a position which he later revised, cinema can only be described as a language without a code or languagesystem ("un langage sans langue"), for it lacks altogether the second articulation (at the phonemic level). Though meaningful, cinematic images cannot be defined as signs in the Saussurian sense, because they are motivated and analogical rather than arbitrary or conventional, and because each image is not generated by a code with a series of fixed rules and (largely unconscious) operations, as a word or a sentence is.

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