Final Essay

During this course we have discussed many different aspects of the cinematic representation of the LGBTQ community throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. These have included unique key concepts suggested by the terms in the following questions, such as: camp, intersectionality, archive, visibility, community, stereotype, censorship, role model.

You may either write a single paper of 8–10 pages in length in response to ONE of these topics,


write two shorter answers of 4–5 pages in response to TWO of these topics;

Answer using examples from a literary texts, film or films of your choice. Be sure to cite a minimum of 3 course texts in answering the question, and be specific in your description of examples or scenes from the films you are using.

  1. Ruby Rich has posed the question, “What is a good gay film?” Explain her concerns about queer aesthetics and apply them to a queer text or film(s) of your choice - in what ways is it “good,” and how does it resist or succumb to stereotype and/or common tropes associated with queer representations? Is visibility enough?
  2. Explain the queer aesthetic of “camp,” shade, and/or queer humor and the role it has played in a film of your choice. In what way can camp be seen as political, and in what ways does it resist or deny dominant tropes of heteronormativity? In answering this question, include some discussion of audience and for whom you think your example is intended.
  3. Define “intersectionality” and demonstrate how it works to reinforce or defeat stereotypes surrounding race/class/gender/sexuality in a text or film of your choice. How is our understanding of sexuality dependent on the reading of gender, race, and/or class in your example? If we apply intersectional analysis to the film or character in question, what do we conclude about the film’s contribution to the broader category of queer cinema?
  4. What is meant by “archive” in relationship to LGBTQ cinematic history, and why is this difficult to recover or even nonexistent for certain identity groups? What has been the strategy of filmmakers in (and since) New Queer Cinema to counteract this problem? How will this change in the future? Use examples from historical films or docu/mocku-mentaries.
  5. Locate some examples of “confession” in one or more films or queer texts and examine these speech acts in light of Sedgwick’s epistemology of the closet. How has coming out defined queer film and literature? What have contemporary writers/filmmakers done to subvert the standard narrative and complicate queer identity? What role does audience play in understanding these as queer speech?
  6. Design your own independent research project on a film or series of your choice, tracing a particular theme, trope, or representation of an identity. Develop a specific research question you think can be successfully addressed in your reading of this film, applying one or more concepts we have developed in the class this semester.