The Song of the Shirt (1979) by Susan Clayton and Johnathan Curling

Sunday, February 12, 1984, 8:00 pm

The Song of the Shirt

Directed by Susan Clayton and Jonathan Curling, produced by the Film and History Project, 1979, 135 min., based on the ballad written by Thomas Hood.

A documentary? A drama? The Song of the Shirt interweaves contemporary discourse, historic texts and costumed action with a self-reflexive style of sound and picture editing. If the warp is woman’s role in the changing economy of early industrial England, the weft is a challenge to the way that narrative structures (and by extension other hierarchic, autocratic institutions) control our lives. “While it is in some sense ‘about’ needlewomen in 19th century England, it is not their ‘story’ simply, but it is about how to write their story, to produce that history in film and thus the concern of the film is with the production of representation — of histories itself.” —-Elizabeth Cowie, Camera Obscura