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Title: Different from the others : a comparative analysis of representations of male queerness and male-male intimacy in the films of Europe and America, 1912-1934
Author: Brown, Shane
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2014
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Since the publication of Vito Russo's now classic study, The Celluloid Closet, in 1981, much has been written on the representation of queer characters on screen. However, no full length work on the representation of queer sexualities in silent and early sound film has yet been published, although the articles and chapters of Dyer (1990), Kuzniar (2000) and Barrios (2003) are currently taken as the definitive accounts of these issues. However, each of the above studies deals with a specific country or region and, since their publication, a significant number of silent films have been discovered that were previously thought lost. There has also been a tendency in the past to map modern concepts of sexuality and gender on to films made nearly one hundred years ago. This thesis, therefore, compares the representations of male queerness and male-male intimacy in the films of America and Europe during the period 1912 to 1934, and does so by placing these films within the social and cultural context in which they were made. This allows us to understand not how modern audiences read them, but how they were understood by audiences when they were initially released. While previous studies have concentrated on a relatively small group of films, this thesis looks far beyond this and, although it does re-examine these core works, it also explores previously neglected films, those that have only recently been rediscovered and, through a study of newspaper articles, reviews and advertisements, films that are now lost. This approach has produced some surprising conclusions, not least that, aside from the core group of European “gay-themed” films (Vingarne, Anders als die Andern, Michael and Geschlecht in Fesseln), it is in America that queer characters were dealt with more sensitively and with more compassion in the films of this period. It has also been possible to re-examine friendships or relationships on film that were previously regarded as having a homosexual subtext and, instead, demonstrate that these were actually representations of the “romantic friendship” popular in the late nineteenth century in America or the comradeship experienced by those that served in the battlefields of World War I.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available