A queer (re) turn to nature? : environment, sexuality and cinema

Olivier, Francois (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is in interested in the potential of (New) Queer Cinema, with its often cited subversive qualities, as a means to delineate the historical and discursive dimensions of an ongoing relationship between the politics of nature and sexual politics, and to articulate the complex array of ideas that result from this relationship. In this thesis, I investigate how a selection of films actively reproduce, question, deconstruct, or reinforce particular constructions of nature and/or epistemologies of (homo)sexuality, often demonstrating such ideas through particular expressive modes, such as nostalgia, mourning, melancholia, and postmodern play, and by referencing certain literary forms, such as the pastoral, georgic and elegy. To facilitate the analysis I outline above, I have chosen to investigate three films which enable me to move from national to transnational and postcolonial cinematic contexts. I read these films alongside a selection of literary/historical texts that I feel inform or preface each filmic text. The first film is James Ivory’s adaptation (1987) of E.M. Forster’s novel, Maurice. The second is Derek Jarman’s elegiac film, The Garden (1990), which I read alongside the English filmmaker’s journal, Modern Nature (1991). And finally for my third chapter I turn to the work of Canadian filmmaker, John Greyson; specifically Proteus (2003), his recent collaboration with South African activist/filmmaker, Jack Lewis. This final filmic text prompts questions of postcoloniality and Eurocentric modes of knowledge production. I provide context for my argument by outlining recent developments in the history of Queer Cinema and by introducing two distinct but related areas of recent academic enquiry – firstly the notion of Queer Ecology (alongside related studies on the “gay pastoral”) and, secondly, the field of Green Film Criticism or Ecocinema.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis handel oor die potensiaal van (Nuwe) “Queer Cinema”, met sy bekende ondermynende eienskappe, om die historiese en diskursiewe dimensies van ’n voortgesette verhouding tussen die politiek van die natuur en van seksualiteit af te beeld, en om die komplekse verskeidenheid van idees wat volg uit hierdie verhouding, te verwoord. In hierdie tesis doen ek ondersoek na die wyse waarop ’n versameling films sekere konstruksies van ‘natuur’ en/of epistemologieë van ‘(homo)seksualiteit’ aktief herproduseer, bevraagteken, dekonstrueer of versterk. Hierdie idees word dikwels uitgebeeld deur middel van sekere ekspressiewe modusse soos nostalgie, rou, melankolie of postmoderne speelsheid, en deur verwysing na sekere literêre vorme of genres soos die pastorale of landelike gedig en die elegie. Die bostaande analise is gebaseer op drie films wat my in staat stel om te beweeg tussen nasionale, transnasionale en postkoloniale kontekste. Ek beskou elk van hierdie films in die lig van ’n gepaardgaande versameling literêre/historiese tekste wat volgens my sentraal staan tot die volle verstaan van die filmiese tekste. Die eerste film is James Ivory se aanpassing (1987) van E.M. Forster se roman, Maurice. Die tweede is Derek Jarman se elegiese film, The Garden (1990), wat ek tesame met hierdie Engelse filmmaker se joernaal, Modern Nature (1991), beskou. Laastens kyk ek na die werk van die Kanadese filmmaker John Greyson, met spesifieke fokus op sy onlangse samewerking met die Suid-Afrikaanse aktivis en filmmaker, Jack Lewis, in die verfilming van Proteus (2003). Hierdie finale filmiese teks vra vrae oor postkolonialiteit en Eurosentriese vorme van kennisproduksie. Ek kontekstualiseer my argument deur ʼn beskrywing te bied van die onlangse verwikkelinge in die geskiedenis van “Queer Cinema” en van twee afsonderlike, maar verwante akademiese gebiede wat onlangs aandag geniet, naamlik die idee van “Queer” Ekologie (en die nou-geassosieerde ‘gay pastorale’) en Groen Film Kritiek of “Ecocinema”.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95805
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