Performing Queer Female Identity on Screen

A Critical Analysis of Five Recent Films


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About the Book

Film audiences have grown used to seeing female characters in “performance roles,” singing or dancing on stages in nightclubs, musical arenas, or theaters—performing their “femaleness” for the fictional audience as well as the film viewing audience. But queer women in film perform on yet another level. In addition to performing their gender for the world, they also perform their sexuality for either a general or an “insider” audience, in ways that can be read to establish a queer visibility, to establish a sense of community, or to show romantic lesbian interest.
This work examines “performance spaces” for lesbian identities in films, evaluating how queer femaleness is signified in contemporary cinema. It studies five films in particular: When Night Is Falling, Better Than Chocolate, Tipping the Velvet, Slaves to the Underground, and Prey for Rock and Roll. Through close textual analysis, evaluations of the conditions under which each film was produced and received, and dozens of audience surveys, it reveals much about both the story worlds of the films and the ways that queer women react to and feel about them.

About the Author(s)

Jamie Stuart is a professor of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Jamie Stuart
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: 11 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3971-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1138-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

Introduction: Business and Pleasure      5

1. A History of Lesbians in the United States and as Represented in Film      37

2. Click Here to Belong: Queer Community Through Magazines and Websites      61

3. Refining the Concept of Queer Female Performativity      80

4. Getting the Couple Together: The Tropes of Glossy Films in When Night Is Falling      98

5. Sex and Violence in the Queer Female Space of Better Than Chocolate      120

6. Queer Space and Queer Costume in Tipping the Velvet      149

7. Formal Experimentation and Political Exploration in Slaves to the Underground      165

8. Danger, Strength, and Prey for Rock and Roll      183

Conclusion: Queer Cinema and the Pleasures of Community      207

Works Consulted      215

Index      227