The Trouble With Norma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN


This article describes Woman’s World’s transition from illustration to literature and now to film. The film is an adaptation of my collaged novel, Woman’s World, which was assembled from fragments of text cut from vintage women’s magazines. The film will be similarly collaged from thousands of clips taken from British movies, TV, adverts and documentaries from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s—re-edited to create a narratively coherent transformative work. Multiple layered cut-outs will suggest a ‘moving collage’ rather than a traditionally made film.

In this essay, I discuss the inherent difficulties in portraying the central character, a cross-dressing man, as both a man and a woman (Roy/Norma) and how the film’s unique collage method can help to facilitate this. Balancing the complex embodiment of two visibly different genders/personas within a single on-screen character is a challenge in live-action film, but here the method of construction allows the on-screen transitions between Roy and Norma to be more elegantly managed. Fleeting dissolves, where the ghost of Roy’s face might appear briefly on Norma’s (or Norma’s on Roy’s), and confused or fragmented collage assemblages can reveal brief involuntary exposure of the suppressed other self, which also hints at the fragility of the projection.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeneficial Shock!
Subtitle of host publicationThe Fully Illustrated Movie Magazine
EditorsGabriel Solomons
PublisherBeneficial Shock Ltd
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018

Publication series

NameBeneficial Shock!
ISSN (Print)2399-5173

Bibliographical note

Commissioned by Gabriel Solomons/Philip Wrigglesworth


  • Film collage
  • gender roles

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