Queer Film Classics Series

By Davis, Glyn | Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Autumn 2012 | Go to article overview

Queer Film Classics Series


Davis, Glyn, Canadian Journal of Film Studies


QUEER FILM CLASSICS SERIES

Edited by Matthew Hays and Thomas Waugh. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press.

Will Aitken, Death in Venice (201 1, 187pp)

Jon Davies, Trash (2009, 173pp)

Shohini Ghosh, Fire (2010, 172pp)

Susan Knabe and Wendy Gay Pearson, Zero Patience (201 1, 181 pp)

Helen Hok-Sze Leung, Farewell My Concubine (2010, 129pp)

José Quiroga, Law of Desire (2009, 155pp)

Noah Tsika, Cods and Monsters (2009, 169pp)

Thomas Waugh and Jason Garrison, Montreal Main (2010, 269pp)

Greg Youmans, Word Is Out (201 1, 189pp)

Reviewed by Glyn Davis

Constructing a Queer Canon

Every ten years, the British Film Institute magazine Sight and Sound publishes a list of the "best films of all time," after canvassing the opinion of a broad array of film critics, theorists, and directors. This canon formation, elaboration, and recalibration began in 1952, and the 2012 list will be unveiled later this year. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) has topped the poll since 1962; the lists are largely populated with unsurprising auteurist choices (Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, and so on). In 2002, in advance of the results of the sixth poll being published, the magazine invited several individuals to write articles nominating particular overlooked or ignored titles for inclusion in the "greatest films" pantheon. Andy Medhurst purposefully rocked the boat by choosing Muriel's Wedding (1994), arguing that P. J. Hogan's comedy-melodrama is "one of the greatest lesbian love stories in film history."1 Medhurst's short, deliriously perverse essay explicitly evoked the possibility of an alternative canon- one more inclusive, more queer, less macho.

The Queer Film Classics series, edited by Matthew Hays and Thomas Waugh, offers up one such vision of a different canon- and a rich and provocative one. Published by Vancouver's Arsenal Pulp Press in an appealingly handsome and generously illustrated format, nine titles from an announced twenty-one are currently available. Three books are being released each year; due to support from particular sources, it is required that one film in three is Canadian, or has some claim to "Canadian-ness" (thus, so far, there are volumes on Fire [Deepa Mehta, 1996], Montreal Main [Frank Vitale, 1974], and Zero Patience [John Greyson, 1993]). Evident in the title of Hays and Waugh's series is its challenge to another British Film Institute canon-forging orthodoxy: the BFI Classics monographs. Admittedly, the films included in the latter book series are much more diverse than those that tend to feature in the Sight and Sound poll; for instance, there are volumes on such queer films as Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945), Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002), Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974), Performance (Donald Cammell/Nicolas Roeg, 1970), Queen Christina (Rouben Mamoulian, 1933), The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963), and Victim (Basil Dearden, 1961). However, unlike most of these individual texts, each contribution to the Queer Film Classics series directly engages, often at significant length, with the historical and political significance of building a queer cinema canon.

Why might this alternative canon be necessary or useful? Prior to the launch of the Queer Film Classics series, Waugh had engaged with the challenges and value of constructing such a definitive list. In the introduction to The Fruit Machine, a collection of his writings from the 1970s through to the 1990s, Waugh identified the significant work carried out by Richard Dyer in his landmark book Now You See It. First published in 1990, Now You See It offered a largely chronological historical introduction to "films made by lesbians and gay men with lesbian and gay subject-matter," with a somewhat arbitrary cut-off date of 1980.2 Waugh acknowledged that Dyer's project in this book "was a daunting task, but at least a feasible one because it covered a half century of relative scarcity.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Queer Film Classics Series
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.