Visionary Critique: Gender, Self and Relationship in Rosetta and Two Days, One Night

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Stefanie Knauss


The films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne stand out for their complex, multi-dimensional female and male characters whose representation disrupts gender stereotypes in numerous ways, both in how the characters themselves are depicted and how they are shown to relate to other individuals and their social context.  In this contribution, I will explore the themes of self, relationship, solidarity, family and work – all of them recurring issues in the films by the Dardennes – using gender as my primary category of analysis, and focusing in particular on the treatment of these themes in Rosetta (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, FR/BE 1999) and Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, BE/FR/IT 2014). I will argue that whereas Rosetta offers a critique of the damaging effects of the masculinized capitalist system on individuals and their relationships, Two Days, One Night can be understood as a vision of alternative possibilities of solidarity and women’s empowerment and agency even within the persistent context of masculinized capitalism.

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Author Biography

Stefanie Knauss, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University

Stefanie Knauss studied theology and English language and literature at Freiburg University (Germany) and Manchester University (UK). She is now an Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture at Villanova University (USA). Her research focuses on theology and culture, body and religion, and gender/queer studies and theology. Recent publications: More than a Provocation: Sexuality, Media and Theology (Göttingen, 2014); Commun(icat)ing Bodies: Body as a Medium in Religious Symbol Systems (edited with Anna-K. Höpflinger and Alexander Ornella; Zurich/London, 2014/2015).