1. Although my analysis in this essay will focus on contemporary film, it is important to acknowledge that there are both cinematic and literary historical precedents to the characters of Elizabeth and Alice, with the character of Manuela (Judy Garland) in Vincente Minnelli’s The Pirate (1948) for instance strongly prefiguring Elizabeth Swann. The woman who breaks free from societal gender restrictions through an engagement with the exoticized Other is not just to be found in the heritage narrative but also the Western and in colonial literature. [return to page 1 of essay]

2. There is in fact a fourth Pirates film entitled On Stranger Tides but for the purposes of this article I will concentrate only on the first three films in the franchise as these are the only ones in which the character of Elizabeth Swann appears.

3. KJ Donnelly discusses the commodification of Irish culture in the film in his essay “Riverdancing as the Ship Goes Down” included in the edited collection Titanic in Myth and Memory: Representations in Visual and Literary Culture. Sean Redmond argues that Jack is associated with Otherness as opposed to the hyper whiteness of the upper classes through his friendship with Italian and Irish passengers in steerage, his characterization as a bohemian artist and his mimicry of the white gentleman in “Titanic: Whiteness on the High Seas of Meaning” to be found in the same edited collection.

4. Daniel Bernardi’s edited collections Classic Hollywood Classic Whiteness and The Persistence of Whiteness contain numerous thought-provoking essays on the representational significance of whiteness to Hollywood cinema and its stars. Films discussed include classics like King Kong to the science fiction fare of the fifties and contemporary blockbusters like Lord of the Rings, while other authors consider the importance of race to stars like Jennifer Lopez and Dorothy Dandridge.

5. Richard Dyer explains in Stars (1998) that charismatic appeal is at its most effective when it offers a sense of order and stability in times of social upheaval (p. 31). [return to page 3]

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Bernardi, Daniel. (Ed.). (2008). The Persistence of Whiteness. New York and Oxon: Routledge.

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Donnelly, K.J. (2004). Riverdancing as the Ship Goes Down. In Tim Bergfelder & Sarah Street (Eds.), The Titanic in Myth and Memory: Representations in Visual and Literary Culture. (pp. 205-215). London and New York: I.B. Tauris& Co Ltd.

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hooks, bell. (1992). Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End.

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Mulvey, Laura. (1975). “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen. 16.3. (pp. 6-18).

Redmond, Sean. (2004). “Titanic: Whiteness on the High Seas of Meaning.” In Tim Bergfelder & Sarah Street (Eds.), The Titanic in Myth and Memory: Representations in Visual and Literary Culture. (pp. 197-205). London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd.

Redmond, Sean. (2007). “The Whiteness of Stars: Looking at Kate Winslet’s Unruly White Body.” In Su Holmes & Sean Redmond (Eds.), Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader (pp. 263-274). London: SAGE Publications.

Sobchack, Vivian. (2004). Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Third, Amanda. (2006) “‘Does the Rug Match the Carpet?’ Race, Gender and the Redheaded Woman.” In Diane Negra (Ed.), The Irish In Us: Irishness, Performativity And Popular Culture. (pp. 220-254). Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Weber, Max. (1946). “The Sociology of Charismatic Authority.” In P. David Marshall (Ed.), The Celebrity Culture Reader. (pp. 55-60). London and New York: Routledge.

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