Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Romance of Transgression in Canada: Queering Sexualities, Nations, Cinemas

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Romance of Transgression in Canada: Queering Sexualities, Nations, Cinemas

Article excerpt

Thomas Waugh, The Romance of Transgression in Canada: Queering Sexualities, Nations, Cinemas (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006), xxii + 602pp. Cased. £57. ISBN 0-7735-3069-X. Paper. £18.99. ISBN 0-7735-3146-7.

Its title an affectionate reference to a 1952 National Film Board cartoon called The Romance of Transportation in Canada, Thomas Waugh's witty, illuminating and extremely wellresearched book offers a comprehensive history of Canadian queer cinema - 'its texts, contexts, makers, and audience' (p. 3). From its focus on queer representation to its similarly pluralised subtitle, Waugh's text may be considered the long-awaited cinematic counterpart to Peter Dickinson's Here Is Queer: Nationalisms, Sexualities, and the Literatures of Canada (1999), and indeed Dickinson supplies an enthusiastic cover quote praising Waugh's book as the definitive history of Canadian queer film. It's an entirely accurate assessment.

Like Dickinson, Waugh operates from the premise of Canada as a nation already queered due to its marginal international position, and examines what he terms 'the queer compulsions towards transgression and its romance that have gripped Canadian cinema and video corpuses since they emerged from the foundational decades of the 1950s and 1960s' (p. 7). Part One consists of ten absorbing and well-illustrated chapters - or 'Episodes' as Waugh styles them - which range over a wide variety of topics and filmtexts, encompassing everything from documentary, avant-garde art video, sports films, pornography and meta-pornography, to popular narrative films such as Anne Wheeler's Better Than Chocolate (1999). The work of filmmakers such as Norman McLaren, Colin Campbell, Claude Jutra, John Greyson, Patricia Rozema and Bruce LaBruce (who contributes a warm, wry Foreword) receives perceptive analysis, and Waugh explores topics and trends including themes of sexual and monetary exchange, the queering of the NFB, AIDS, the body, and the depiction of movements between country and city spaces. …

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