The Desiring-Image Gilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-07-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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The Desiring-Image yields new models of queer cinema produced since the late 1980s, based on close formal analysis of diverse films as well as innovative contributions to current film theory. The book defines "queer cinema" less as a specific genre or in terms of gay and lesbian identity, but more broadly as a kind of filmmaking that conveys sexual desire and orientation as potentially fluid within any individual's experience, and as forces that can therefore unite unlikely groups of people along new lines, socially, sexually, or politically. The films driving this analysis range from celebrated fixtures of the New Queer Cinema of the 1990s (including Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman and Todd Haynes's Velvet Goldmine) to sexually provocative films of the same era that are rarely classified as queer (David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers and Naked Lunch) to breakout films by 21st-century directors (Rodney Evans's Brother to Brother, John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus). To frame these readings and to avoid heterosexist assumptions in other forms of film analysis, The Desiring-Image revisits the work of the philosopher Gilles Deleuze, whose two major works on cinema somehow never address the radical ideas about desire he expresses in other texts. This book brings those notions together in innovative ways, making them clear and accessible to newcomers and field specialists alike, with clear, illustrated examples drawn from a wide range of movies extending beyond the central case studies. Thus, The Desiring-Image speaks to readers interested in queer and gay/lesbian studies, in film theory, in feminist and sexuality scholarship, and in theory and philosophy, putting those discourses into rich, surprising conversations with popular cinema of the last 30 years.

Author Biography

Nick Davis is Assistant Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Desiring Image
The Triple Womb
Queering the Cinema Books
New Queer Is . . . New Queer Ain't
Seven Pillars of Schizo Homo Pomo
A Word on Orientation, or Around 1991
Preview of Coming Attractions

1. "Beyond Gay": Dead Ringers and Queer Perceptions
"We're Just Not Sure What Kind It Is"
Dissenting from "A Dissenting View"
Mutant Textuality
Perceptions of Perception: Movement, Time, Subtraction
Perceptions and Desire: Types of Flows
Out-of-Fields and the Desiring-Image
The Desiring-Images of Dead Ringers
First Out-of-Field: The Mantles vs. the World
Second Out-of-Field: The Love that Keeps Almost Speaking Its Name
Third Out-of-Field: The Triple-Womb and the "Either . . . or . . . or . . ."
Fourth Out-of-Field: Impulse and Immanence
The Desiring-Image as Relation-Image

2. Hard Bodies and Sex-Blobs: Deterritorializing Desire in Naked Lunch and Shortbus
Innaresting Sex Arrangements
Peaks, Sheets, and Series
"Everything Is Permitted": Incompossibilities of Desire
Schizos and Counterpublics
If on a Summer's Night a Sex-Blob
Sounds, Stutters, and Scatterplots
A Kafka High or a New Low?: Quandaries of the Minor
Shortbus: The Queer Politics of "Actual" Sex
Does This Bus Only Make One Stop?

3. "Something in Her Face": Queering the Affection-Image in The Watermelon Woman
Who Is She, and What Is She to You?
The Riddle of the Lesbian Affection-Image
Like Clockwork, or How to Make a Face
Facing Elsie, and the Mystery of the Other Person
Black Lesbians and Their Others
Peaks of Present, or What Ever Happened to Lesbian Community?
Sheets of Past and Centers of Indetermination
A Singular Face, Implying Multitudes
Deflective Unities and Oracular Chores
Faces in the Crowd
Facing Forward

4. Brother to Brother and Adventures in Queer Crystallography
Queer Crystallography
Crystals, Then and Now
The Four Types
Looking for Bruce / Looking for Perry
Through a Crystal-Image, Darkly
What's Sex Got to Do with It?

5. Crystal-Queer Economies: Beau Travail
What's Money Got to Do with It?
The Oyster and the Book in Blood
The Broken Compass and the Three Economies
Beau travail, or the Ambiguities
Compound Crystals
Bachelors and Belles transitions

6. Theses on a Philosophy of Queer History: Velvet Goldmine
Changing the World / Changing Ourselves
Angels, Aliens, and Orphans
Point A to Point B
Wild Cards and Unexpected Critiques
Toward Productive Ends
The Minors and the Miners


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