Lesbian Desire in Film: Coming to Terms

Lucille Cairns

in Sapphism on Screen

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780748621651
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651108 | DOI:
Lesbian Desire in Film: Coming to Terms

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This book investigates the traces and spaces of lesbian desire in a large corpus of films directed by both male and female directors, mainly from France. Spanning the period 1936–2002, the corpus numbers eighty-nine texts. A fair number of these are mainstream films that have achieved high critical acclaim and/or high viewing figures. As such, they have contributed to hegemonic constructions of (female) homosexuality in an episteme wherein sexed and gendered identity, including sexual orientation, has become a pre-eminent factor in the constitution of subjectivity. First, the book explores what is meant by ‘lesbian spectatorship’. Second, it considers why visual pleasure should be based on voyeurism or fetishism. Third, the book examines the two most predominant lesbian paradigms immanent in the corpus: criminality and pathology. Fourth, it considers borderline inscriptions of lesbianism: lesbian liminality. Fifth, the book discusses more apparently lesbo-affirmative mises en scènes of lesbian desire, but not without problematising them where necessary. Finally, it looks at shifts in French-language cinematic mediations of lesbianism over the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Keywords: France; lesbianism; lesbian desire; lesbian spectatorship; homosexuality; voyeurism; fetishism; films; criminality; pathology

Chapter.  7914 words. 

Subjects: Film

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