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On Wed, 4 Apr 2001 [log in to unmask] wrote:

> so, are there any books --or, even better, essays -- that
> might be used to *begin* an exploration of homosexuality
> on [and, by implication, off] the screen .

The last time I taught a course on homosexuality in film for
undergraduates, I started them off with three short pieces from Jeffrey
Weeks's book *Against Nature: Essays on History, Sexuality, and Identity*
(London: Rivers Oram Press, 1991).  I assigned essays 4, "Questions of
Identity"; 5, "Against Nature"; and 9, "Uses and Abuses of Michel
Foucalut."  These writings don't discuss film, but they do a good job of
introducing the debates over essentialism vs. social constructionism in
the fields of Gay and Lesbian Studies and Queer Theory.

Like the queer theorists who would build off of Foucault's work, Weeks is
a constructionist, and he makes his position clear, but his writings don't
tend to scare off freshmen the way some of the more difficult writings
can.  His reminder that "a social identity is no less real for being
historically formed" is particularly helpful (and comforting) in a body of
work that doesn't always explicitly point this out.

Also, the short essays "Gay and Lesbian Criticism" (by Anneke Smelik) and
"Queer Theory" (by Alexander Doty), both in Hill and Gibsons *The Oxford
Guide to Film Studies* (Oxford UP, 1998), offer helpful background
information for students going into this subject in the context of a film
class.


Dan Humphrey

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