Lesbian Rule: Cultural Criticism and the Value of Desire (Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies)
By: Amy Villarejo (author)Hardback
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With hair slicked back and shirt collar framing her young patrician face, Katharine Hepburn's image in the 1935 film Sylvia Scarlett was seen by many as a "lesbian" representation. Yet, Amy Villarejo argues, there is no final ground upon which to explain why that image of Hepburn signifies lesbian or why such a cross-dressing Hollywood fantasy edges into collective consciousness as a "lesbian" narrative. Investigating what allows viewers to make an image or narrative work as "lesbian," Villarejo presents a theoretical exploration of lesbian visibility. Focusing on images of "the lesbian" in film, she analyzes what these representations contain and their limits. She combines Marxist theories of value with post structuralist insights to argue that lesbian visibility operates simultaneously as an achievement and a ruse, a possibility for building a new visual politics and a way of rendering static and contained what lesbian might mean. Integrating cinema studies, queer and feminist theory, and cultural studies, Villarejo illuminates the contexts within which the lesbian is rendered visible.
Toward that end, she analyzes key portrayals of the lesbian in public culture, particularly in documentary film. She considers a range of films - from documentaries about Cuba, Shanghai and lesbian pulp fiction to The Brandon Teena Story, and, in doing so, brings to light a nuanced economy of value and desire.
Amy Villarejo is Associate Professor in the Department of Theater, Film, and Dance at Cornell University. She is coauthor of "Queen Christina" and coeditor of "Keyframes: Popular Film and Cultural Studies."
Introduction; 1. Lesbian rule; 2. Droits de regards/ Rights of inspection :For Agnes and Inez Albright; 3. Archiving the diaspora: A lesbian impression; 4. Absolut queer: Cuba and its spectators; 5. Forbidden love: Pulp as lesbian history; Afterword: Straight to video
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- ID: 9780822331551
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