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Pauline and the female serial

by Kate Fortmueller

While many discussions of genre often assume that male genres are action-oriented and female genres are emotionally driven, the female serials of the 1910s demonstrate how action and melodrama can combine in a female-centered narrative.  Although The Perils of Pauline is female centered, Shelley Stamp's "An Awful Struggle Between Love and Ambition - Serial heroines, stars, and their female fans," argued that Pauline does not usually control the narrative or setting in each episode, but rather gets trapped and tormented.  Based on this sequence, how would you characterize female action and agency in the serial?

The Perils of Pauline - Chapter 1 (1916)

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In this sequence Pauline takes off in a balloon and hangs off the side of a cliff.

from The Perils of Pauline - Chapter 1 (1916)
Creator: Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie
Distributor: Grapevine Video
Posted by Kate Fortmueller