Autism Through Cinema

Cat People (1942) dir. Jacques Tourneur

July 23, 2021

We welcome special guest PhD student Ethan Lyon to the podcast, who brings along the 1942 horror classic Cat People for our scrutiny. Starring Simone Simon in the lead role, this moody horror noir folows Serbian immigrant Irena who believes herself to be a descendant of an ancient tribe of persecuted people who metamophorsize into bloodthirsty panthers when aroused. Ethan asks us to consider whether Irena might be understood through the lens of autism as a societal outsider who struggles with a number of sensory challenges, while forever under the scrutiny of the psychoanalytic gaze. We also discuss the legacies of historical events upon a person's identity, the Gothic in relation to the construction of mental health, and the often whimsical association of cats with autism, and dogs with neurotypicality.

Huge thanks to Ethan for joining us for this episode. The other discussants here are Alex Widdowson, Janet Harbord, David Hartley, Georgia Bradburn and John-James Laidlow.

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