Jean Bruce

Member

Dr. Jean Bruce's education, research and publication involve multiculturalism and sexuality in Canadian cinema; early cinema in Quebec; ethnographic cinema; and currently, reality television in trans/national contexts.

Dr. Jean Bruce is an associate professor of film, cultural studies and new media in the School of Image Arts where she teaches courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These include film history and criticism, advertising and consumer culture, Hollywood melodrama, visual culture, and film and cultural theory. Her education, research and publication involve multiculturalism and sexuality in Canadian cinema; early cinema in Quebec; ethnographic cinema; and currently, reality television in trans/national contexts. Jean is the recipient of internal and external grants, which support this work.

The general area of my current research is property or realty TV. I had written an article on Holmes on Homes (HGTV) and guest edited a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication in 2009. I was later contacted by Zoe Druick and we wrote a SSRHC Insight Development Grant, which we got. I held a symposium at Ryerson a couple of years ago as part of the grant and the European Journal of Cultural Studies is devoting a special issue to the subject of Women and Property TV, which I co-edited with Zoe. From the introduction….

Haunted Houses: Gender and property television after the financial crisis

This special issue grapple with the international rise of lifestyle and reality programming concerned with the buying, selling and renovating of domestic property, from furnishings, antiques and household effects to condominiums and houses. Although these formats began in the years prior to the global economic crash of 2008, since then they have grown to become a prominent international genre, morphing and hybridizing in different national and regional contexts, and arguably becoming one of the central and ubiquitous ways in which the financial crisis and its aftermath have been imagined and represented in popular culture. The essays in this issue consider the social, political and cultural dimensions of this elastic genre, which incorporates elements of the makeover show and ‘artifactual entertainment’ with popular genres such as comedy, horror, melodrama, mystery and docudrama. Contributions consider how gender is constituted as a central component of property and real estate in ways at once new and historically resonant. For instance, the highly gendered metaphors of house and home are re-imagined once more, this time as ambivalent expressions of self-preservation in neoliberal times.


My current work specifically deals with: 

a theme that has played a crucial role in the discussion of reality TV and governmentality: surveillance (Andrejevic 2004). I consider the ways in which an aesthetic of surveillance is utilized in the show Love it or List it (LIOLI) to advance the domestic drama being played out. Bruce identifies in LIOLI the ghostly remnants of the screwball comedy that compete with the voyeuristic gaze of the show on the couple’s marital troubles. The bantering, competitive male-realtor/female-designer host pair provides a light-hearted, ironic echo of the struggles going on between the owners. While the hosts act as proxies for the home-owning couple, in the tradition of screwball, love can be renewed for all concerned at the end—including, love for the home. However, lurking beneath the surface and literally behind the walls are the skeletal remains of the gothic, the uninhabitable haunted house being perhaps the most apt image for the uncanny domesticity expressed wittingly or not by the property show.