The topic of Maeve’s Ph.D. dissertation is Joan of Arc in the movies. The dissertation has the title Keeping Her in Her Place: the Perpetual Imprisonment of Joan of Arc, referring to the fact that cinematic versions of Joan’s story deny her the freedom of behavior that is accorded to male heroes. The dissertation has been published as Portrayals of Joan of Arc in Film: From the Historical Joan to her Mythological Daughters.
In the first part of her PhD dissertation about Joan of Arc in film, Maeve compares the historical facts about Joan of Arc with six film depictions. She demonstrates that, although the films seem to present Joan as a hero, they in fact limit her autonomy to make her conform to patriarchal norms of female behavior.
In the second half of the study Maeve discusses fictional female heroes who owe their conception to the historical existence of Joan of Arc. Like Joan, most of these female heroes are limited to gendered female behavior. Maeve concludes that the only one of Joan’s fictional “daughters” who is permitted the same freedom of action that was previously limited to male heroes in Western literature is Buffy Summers. The blonde Vampire Slayer is the first female hero to rise to the same level of heroism previously acknowledged only in men.
Here are reviews of the six films discussed in Maeve’s study.
DeMille’s Joan the Woman (1917)
Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Fleming’s Joan of Arc (1948)
Preminger’s Saint Joan (1957)
Duguay’s Joan of Arc (1999)
Besson’s The Messenger (1999)
A lengthier discussion of the Besson film that Maeve wrote under the by-line Peggy Maddox can be found in the online Journal of Religion and Popular Culture: “Retiring the Maid: The Last Joan of Arc Movie.”