Luce Irigaray, contemporary women’s cinema and practice-as-research
: a caressing dialogical encounter

  • Judith Rifeser

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis formulates an original contribution to scholarship by exploring Luce Irigaray’s philosophy of the caress with and through contemporary global women’s filmmaking in dialogue with audio-visual Practice-as-Research. Irigaray’s quest for a feminine subjectivity has received ample attention within studies of philosophy, psychoanalysis, feminist film and phenomenology. The application of the Irigarayan caress to embodied audio-visual praxis remains to date an uncharted field. This research project functions as a dialogical encounter between a written thesis (70%) and a body of innovative audio-visual practice pieces (30%) through “pensive-creative praxis”. The thesis focuses on Irigaray’s philosophy of the caress in relation to oneself, and the other, aiming to deepen an understanding of the concept by addressing themes of violence, voice(s) and silence(s) – omitted in Irigaray's own account of the caress that ultimately, however, speak to and support her broader project of establishing a feminine enunciation.

    The thesis begins with a detailed exposition of Irigaray's theory of the caress, investigating its potential as a novel philosophical and methodological tool for Practice-as-Research. Close textual analysis of Claudia Llosa’s (2009) The Milk of Sorrow and Shirin Neshat’s (2009) Women Without Men underpins the written part, whilst a wider corpus of films informs the practice component. My project feeds into the current interest in and validation of the audio-visual essay format as a form of academic practice, providing a novel reading of the audio-visual essay format in parallel with the Irigarayan caress and arguing for its potential for feminist, intersectional scholarship. My audio-visual practice unveiled several contradictions and complexities implicit in the Irigarayan caress, allowing me to exemplify how Practice-as-Research deepens philosophical enquiry. My thesis expands and refinesthe work to-date on Irigaray’s conceptualisation of the caress, emphasising the potential of a dialogical encounter between theory and practice for feminist film-philosophical research.
    Date of Award4 Mar 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    Sponsors Roehampton VC Scholarship
    SupervisorCaroline Bainbridge (Supervisor) & William Brown (Supervisor)


    • Luce Irigaray
    • Practice-as-Research
    • Women Filmmaker
    • Caress
    • Audio-Visual

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