Gay Representations in Popular Film: A New, More Androgynous, Nationalist Imaginary? Panel (Popular Culture and Film) at the 41s

full name / name of organization: 
Nigel Joseph/NeMLA
contact email: 

If mainstream blockbuster films have in the past typically linked nationalism with hyper-masculinity (Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford as simultaneously male and American fantasy figures), what are we to make of more recent representations of gay identities in mainstream films that are also linked, sometimes quite explicitly, to nationalism? Thus Brokeback Mountain, it may be argued, both subverts and skilfully re-affirms several themes/features usually associated with the iconically masculine figure of the cowboy, and in doing so successfully reconfigures the nationalist imaginary; and Gus Van Sant's Milk encourages us to admire a gay activist who repeatedly invokes the American Declaration of Independence and the words inscribed beneath the Statue of Liberty. Papers are invited that explore some of the following possibilities: that such films (and others like them) represent the first stirrings of a new popular imagining of nationhood; that they are they merely liberal Hollywood's response (not, in the long run, very significant) to the growing fundamentalist movement in the United States; they represent nothing more than power somehow rehearsing its own inviolability, which, as Foucault has suggested, is what power characteristically does. Send abstracts (300 words) and short bio to Nigel Joseph, Assistant Professor, Dept of English, University of Western Ontario, at by Sept 30, 2009.