My specialty is genres with dark emotions. I’ve written about horror, the fantastic, the war film, and the action film. I presently focus on women and the fantastic and ask questions like: why watch things that give us nightmares or make us sick? Can that be good? How can unpleasant emotions be play? And is the fantastic especially suited to make us stronger and more creative?
My approach is bioculturalism, which combines theories from the natural sciences with theories from the humanities. I use cognitive theories and theories of play. I think we play when we enjoy fiction, and I think play is adaptive and makes us flexible and creative.
I am passionate about empowering women. I aspire to do that in my research.
Among my research publications are Mastering Fear: Women, Emotions, and Contemporary Horror (Bloomsbury 2018), Super Bitches and Action Babes, and Women of Ice and Fire.
Bulk, Breast, and Beauty: Negotiating the Superhero Body in Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman
This article discusses how the choice of actress Gal Gadot to play Wonder Woman negotiates between comic book fans’ expectations and society’s gender schema. It has taken 75 years to produce a movie adaption of Wonder Woman, perhaps due to the ‘problem’ of female muscles. I here focus on the significance of Wonder Woman’s muscles using theory from sports sociology and feminism.
One theoretical frame is edgework, coined by sociologist Stephen Lyng about dangerous activities that amateurs perform. My second frame is a feminist analysis of female muscles. Women navigate the boundary between what sociologist Shari Dworkin calls ‘emphasized femininity’ and what is beyond this femininity. The article introduces Wonder Woman’s origin, then presents theory of edgework and female muscles, third, it analyzes Wonder Woman as bodywork and edgework, and, finally, discusses Gadot’s Wonder Woman body as feminist physique.
Author’s final accepted version. Online 29 January, 2019.
Rikke Schubart, “Bulk, Breast, and Beauty: Negotiating the Superhero Body in Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman”
Continuum 33, 2 (2019)
Download author’s final version as pdf here:
‘As if’: Women in Genres of the Fantastic, Cross-Platform Entertainments and Transmedial Engagements
Special Issue about women in the transmedia fantastic, Continuum 33, 2, online 24 January, 2019, ed. by Stephanie Green, Amanda Howell, and Rikke Schubart.
The articles in this Special Issue reflect critically on the shifting shapes of screen femininity and female heroism in the transmedia fantastic, also the roles of female stars, creators, audiences and fans in relation to fantastic fictions. Here are articles on Penny Dreadful, Wonder Woman, The Handmaid’s Tale, Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel, The Hunger Games and more. Some of the discussions engage with what Jenkins calls ‘transmedia storytelling’, dealing with characters developed within the ever-expanding diegesis of the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU), which began with the creations of Stan Lee in 1961—or that of Mattel’s smaller-scale but likewise burgeoning tween-focused transmedia property, Monster High (2010-present).
But this Special Issue also concerns itself with those transmedial practices and productions that fall outside this definition and its carefully-designed story-worlds, such as the multi-texts of adaptations and fan performance and creations. A key interest shared across these articles is the work of the ‘transmedial imagination’, particularly in the way that ‘information. . .sensory and emotional experience’ transfers from one medium to another (Eder 2015), sparking critical or emotional or political or creative responses. These articles demonstrate the multiple and sometimes contradictory character of entertainments in genres of the fantastic as they play out across and between different media in an environment where, at the same time that multi-national conglomerates clearly dominate, multiple points of entry are possible into their imagined universes.
Mastering Fear: Women, Emotions, and Contemporary Horror
My main research for the last six years has been women in contemporary horror and why it is good for the audience to watch horror. I’ve selected texts from mainstream film and television, and from global art cinema and New French Extremity. Some are bloody and nasty, others are lighter. Some, like American Horror Story, are even fun.
This is how Amazon describes the book:
Mastering Fear offers a unique new interdisciplinary theory of horror as play. It examines what functions horror has and why it is adaptive and beneficial for audiences, including women. It takes a biocultural approach, and focusing on emotions, gender, and play, it argues that the audience plays with fiction horror. In horror, we engage not only with negative emotions of fear and disgust, but with a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative, and the aim for us is to master these. The book lays out a theory of horror and analyzes female protagonists in contemporary horror from child to teen, adult, middle age, and old age.
Women of Ice and Fire: Gender, Game of Thrones and Multiple Media Engagements
Edited by Anne Gjelsvik and Rikke Schubart
When I finished season one of Game of Thrones I decided this was the best television show I had watched. And I envied Daenerys those dragons! I had to do research on the amazing women in this universe. Luckily, my friend and colleague Anne agreed, and together we embarked on this anthology about the women in the GOT universe (books, HBO show, online media, computer games).
George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire is unique for its female protagonists from teen queen Daenerys, scheming Queen Cersei, child avenger Arya, knight Brienne, Red Witch Melisandre, and many more. The GOT universe challenges, exploits, yet also changes how we think of women, gender, and feminism.
The book is divided into three sections: First section looks at adaptation from novel to television; the second section examines female characters; and the third section discusses politics and audience engagement. The eleven contributors all analyze gender, and they do not agree on the gender politics of the GOT universe.
Eastwood’s Iwo Jima: Critical Engagements With Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima
Editors: Rikke Schubart and Anne Gjelsvik
With Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Clint Eastwood made a unique contribution to film history, being the first director to make two films about the same event. Eastwood’s films examine the battle over Iwo Jima from two nations’ perspectives, in two languages, and embody a passionate view on conflict, enemies, and heroes. Together these works tell the story behind one of history’s most famous photographs, Leo Rosenthal’s “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.”
In this volume, international scholars in political science and film, literary, and cultural studies undertake multifaceted investigations into how Eastwood’s diptych reflects war today. Fifteen essays explore the intersection among war films, American history, and Japanese patriotism. They present global attitudes toward war memories, icons, and heroism while offering new perspectives on cinema, photography, journalism, ethics, propaganda, war strategy, leadership, and the war on terror.
Super Bitches and Action Babes: The Female Hero in Popular Cinema, 1970–2006
When I wrote my PhD dissertation on the action film, I discovered there were plenty of female heroes but almost no research about them. That has changed today. This is my first postdoctoral book.
Super Bitches and Action Babes analyses the female hero in “male” film genres like action film, horror, science fiction and WIP films from 1970 to 2006. It introduces five female archetypes: the dominatrix, the Amazon, the daughter, the mother and the rape-avenger.
This is what Amazon writes:
With actress Pam Grier’s breakthrough in Coffy and Foxy Brown, women entered action, science fiction, war, westerns and martial arts films–genres that had previously been considered the domain of male protagonists. This ground-breaking cinema, however, was–and still is–viewed with ambivalence.
While women were cast in new and exciting roles, they did not always arrive with their femininity intact, often functioning both as a sexualized spectacle and as a new female hero rather than female character. This volume contains an in-depth critical analysis and study of the female hero in popular film from 1970 to 2005. It examines five female archetypes: the dominatrix, the Amazon, the daughter, the mother and the rape-avenger. The entrance of the female hero into films written by, produced by and made for men is viewed through the lens of feminism and post-feminism arguments. Analyzed works include films with actors Michelle Yeoh and Meiko Kaji, the Alien films, the Lara Croft franchise, Charlie’s Angels, and television productions such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Alias.