While Friedberg explores the origins of the flaneuse in emerging consumer and film culture, Gleber, writing about Weimar culture, finds the predecessor of the female flaneur in the female moviegoer: "The spectatrix
in the movie theatre," she argues, "is therefore a kind of prototype of the female flaneur, a moving spectator in the streets" (186).
Yet as much as Denis's film is engaged with finding new routes through the complex question of cinematic gender, its rethinking of the historically problematic flaneuse has a notable precedent; namely, in the form of the spectatrix
. Both Giuliana Bruno and Anne Friedberg (20) have identified this overlooked gender element in the history of spectatorship: that this spectatrix
was in fact the original "spectator." This originary spectatrix
reclaims the act of looking and viewing from its masculinized appropriation; the female noun being differentiated from the ambiguous gendering of the "female spectator," and its associations of watching through a masculine matrix.
Never powerful enough to confess directly and completely to the audience in her own words, a woman storyteller speaks in fragments to onstage interlocutors and becomes the narratee and spectatrix
of her own life.
Laura Rosenthal, too, seems to me through the same omission simply to get stuck on the question of how the 'spectatrix
' responded to what she very ably shows were highly crafted visual representations of female vulnerability.
Rosenthal, 'Reading Masks: The Actress and the Spectatrix
in Restoration Shakespeare'; and Cynthia Lowenthal, 'Sticks and Rags, Bodies and Brocade: Essentializing Discourses and the Late Restoration Playhouse'.