Modernity and technics
Over the 1880 to 1920 period, modern life in Western cities became
exponentially enmeshed with a host of new technologies: automobiles,
express trains, aeroplanes, electrical lighting, electrical conveyances
(tramways, elevators, funiculars, moving sidewalks, etc.), telephone,
wireless, and of course cinema. There were also less public innovations in industrial production and chemistry, in medicine (X-rays,
pharmacology, dentistry, surgery, cosmetics, eyewear), and in destructive technologies of
Movies speak mainly to the eyes. Though they started talking in words some seventy years ago, what they say to our ears seldom overpowers or even matches the impact of what they show us. This essay proposes to read one more time the issue of homosexuality in Mary Shelley‘s first novel, Frankenstein. In order to offer a new angle on the homosexual component of Victor Frankenstein‘s relationship with his creature when next teaching this most canonical Romantic novel, this essay considers Shelley‘s work alongside four film adaptations: James Whale‘s 1931 Frankenstein, Whale‘s 1935 The Bride of Frankenstein, Richard O’Briens 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Kenneth Branagh‘s 1994 Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein. These films present their audience with original readings of their source material, readings that can be questioned with regards to their lack of truthfulness to the original works themes and characters.
The Metamorphosis of the Queer Monster in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Bram Stokers Dracula
Since its release in 1992, Francis Ford Coppola‘s Bram Stoker‘s Dracula has made a deep impression upon the vampire community, or more likely left an infamous hole in it. Critics received Coppolas movie with closed fangs. To Fred Botting, Bram Stokers Dracula is ‘The End of Gothic’, the final metamorphosis of a faltering convention into some strange and alien form that destroys all of Gothics power. Stokers novel brought to greatness a war between the establishment of gender roles, threatened by the overtly (homo)sexual presence of Count Dracula, who turned women into harlots and men into sissies, before Abraham Van Helsing and his Crew of Light end Counts reign of terror to reaffirm their own faltering masculinity. Coppolas version creates a new heterogeneous blend of the corrupted legends of Prince Vlad the Impaler woven together with the literary Dracula within a Harlequin Romance format. The homoerotic undertones of Stokers novel disappear under the overly-exaggerated romantic quest of Coppolas new vampire.
The Big Clocks skyscraper is a mechanical, entrapping grid controlled by a huge
timepiece. It is presided over by the homosexual Janoth who tries to frame Stroud for
a murder that he committed. This article traces Stroud‘s journey within the
International Style skyscrapers temporarily ‘queered spaces.’ The Cold War film seeks
the removal of undesirable ‘aliens’ to liberate capitalist space and reassert
hegemonic heterosexuality. The married Stroud outsmarts his adversaries, leading to
Janoth‘s death by his own building. After Janoth is symbolically ‘outed,’ he kills
his partner before plummeting down a hellish elevator shaft, punishment for his
If he is known for anything other than his writings, James Baldwin is best known for his
work as a civil rights activist. What is often overlooked is Baldwin’s work toward uniting
two under-represented and oppressed groups: African Americans and homosexuals. With his
first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Baldwin began a career of speaking about and for
homosexuals and their relationship with the institutions of African-American communities.
Through its focus on a sensitive, church-going teenager, Go Tell It on the Mountain
dramatizes the strain imposed upon homosexual members of African-American communities
within the Pentecostal Church through its religious beliefs.
James Baldwin and the "Closeted-ness" of American
This article reads the work of James Baldwin in dialogue with that of Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick. Taking its cue from Baldwin’s claim that Americans “live […] with something in
[their] closet” that they “pretend […] is not there,” it explores his depiction of a
United States characterized by the “closeted-ness” of its racial discourse. In doing so,
the article draws on Sedgwick’s work concerning how the containment of discourses
pertaining to sexuality hinges on the closeting of non-heteronormative sexual practices.
Reconceptualizing Sedgwick’s ideas in the context of a black, queer writer like Baldwin,
however, problematizes her own insistence on the “historical gay specificity” of the
epistemology she traces. To this end, this article does not simply posit a racial
counterpart to the homosexual closet. Rather, reflecting Baldwin’s insistence that “the
sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined,” I highlight here the
interpretive possibilities opened up by intersectional analyses that view race, sexuality,
and national identity as coextensive, reciprocal epistemologies.
This paper examines how the reconfiguration of embodiment at the end of the nineteenth century provides Charlotte Mew with a powerful trope of disembodiment which she employs to inscribe a new kind of body in her short story, ‘Passed’- a body which allows the expression of lesbian desire. The ‘reconfiguration of embodiment’ discussed in this essay is, more specifically, the result of the emergence of the ‘machinic-human body’ (a precursor to the post-human at this time). This paper discusses how this machinic-human body ‘which is Gothic or ‘abhuman’ as the term is employed by Kelly Hurley in her book, The Gothic Body is linked to Mew‘s use of erasure, silence, death, and out-of-body-experience, and how Mew employs erasure of the printed word, and death of the heterosexual body to encode a new body, with ‘new’ desires. In ‘Passed’, text and body are intimately linked such that within the world of the story erasure of the written word is associated with the erasure of the heterosexual body, and this very erasure enacts an encoding of a homosexual one. At the same time, of course, it is Mew‘s use of print that allows the erasure and encoding that is the work of the story.
In Alien3 Lt Ellen Ripley finds herself in a nightmare scenario. She has crash-landed on an abandoned prison planet, ‘Fury 161’, surrounded by a remnant of the inmate population (twenty-five prisoners, a medical officer and two administrators who have opted to remain in a care-taking capacity after the prison/refinery was closed). The prisoners are a violent group of rapists and murderers with double-y chromosome coding, who can only seem to control their excessive expressions of masculinity by fanatically embracing a fundamentalist religion. Ripley sums up the group as ‘a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space’. On one level, this setting begs for a story of male homosexuality: an all-male prison planet filled with sexual aggressors could be the recipe for a gay male porn classic. Instead, it becomes a tale of excessive masculinity manifested through heterosexual fears and desires. I want to take this discrepancy between homo-possibilities and hetero-manifestations as my point of departure to explore how Alien3s engagement with the Gothic diverts and expresses anxieties about queer masculinity, desire, and sexuality.
This book examines that body of recent French literary and cinematic productions
which have been characterised by their reference to, use of, or complicity with
the aesthetics, the codes, the tropes or the world of pornography, and which
have made a significant cultural impact on the basis of this dimension. It
considers the insistent heterosexuality of most contemporary pornographic
citation, exploring a range of texts and films, and taking in the female
perspective on the male and the male perspective on the female. The book
discusses the work of Guillaume Dustan and Erik Remes, whose explicit
representations of sexual activity intervene into debates about the place of gay
and queer identities in contemporary France, particularly with reference to
sexual practice in the light of the AIDS epidemic. The book explores the
conflicted sexual space, considering the perspectives of men and women in turn,
starting somewhat unconventionally with women's art. It addresses Catherine
Breillat's work in terms of its relation to the pornographic. The book also
explains that the homophobic dismissal of homosexuality, and its defiant,
resistant assertion, sometimes rely on the figure of anality as a kind of
shorthand for their arguments about the relationship between desire,
productivity, anatomy, futurity, community, and so on. Michel Houellebecq's
treatment of questions of gender, most especially the portrayal of women,
including the discourses of misogyny and anti-feminism, is discussed. The book
also looks at the concept of child pornography, romantic comedy, and the growing
impact of independent cinema.
Michael Derek Elworthy Jarman as a true 'Renaissance Man' in the colloquial sense of the word, as well as having a strong and permanent interest in the art, thought, and literature of the Renaissance. Although the tone of Jarman's films is frequently melancholic, the threat which death poses for desire is sometimes modulated by an apparent desire for death. He was never comfortable with the label 'gay', regarding it as both too stable and too self-satisfied, too concerned to present a 'positive' image. He preferred the more fluid and mobile term 'queer'. Jarman's first feature-length film was remarkable in many ways and in at least three respects was virtually unique at the time for a commercially distributed picture. In 1977, the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, punk had spread beyond a handful of clubs and bands in London and New York and was starting to look like a complete new youth culture in the making. From 1978 to 1985, whatever else he was engaged in, Jarman's life was dominated by his desire to make a film about the life of the Italian painter Caravaggio. Wittgenstein had been a completely unexpected commission which Jarman, despite his failing health, had rapidly and brilliantly converted into 'A Derek Jarman Film' through his usual intense personal identification with his subject. Blue was one of a cluster of films addressing the issue of AIDS which were released in the early 1990s.