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Screening Gender, Framing Genre

Screening Gender, Framing Genre: Canadian Literature into Film

Peter Dickinson
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Screening Gender, Framing Genre
    Book Description:

    Audiences often measure the success of film adaptations by how faithfully they adhere to their original source material. However, fidelity criticism tells only part of the story of adaptation. For example, the changes made to literary sources in the course of creating their film treatments are often fascinating in terms of what they reveal about the different processes of genre recognition and gender identification in both media, as well as the social, cultural, and historical contexts governing their production and reception.

    In Screening Gender, Framing Genre, Peter Dickinson examines the history and theory of films adapted from Canadian literature through the lens of gender studies. Unique in its discussion of a range of different adaptations, including films based on novels, plays, poetry, and Native orature, this study offers new and often provocative readings of works by such well-known Canadian authors as Margaret Atwood, Marie-Claire Blais, and Michael Ondaatje, and by such important Canadian filmmakers as Mireille Dansereau, Claude Jutra, Robert LePage, and Bruce McDonald. Drawing with equal facility from film and gender theory, and revealing a thorough knowledge of both literary and cinematic history, Dickinson has written a lively and engaging study that is sure to resonate with readers curious about the intersection of Canadian cultural production and broader issues of gender and national identity formation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7965-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction: Literature and Film, Gender and Genre
    (pp. 3-16)

    Many readers of Canadian literature know that Michael Ondaatje’sThe English Patientwon the Governor General’s Award and shared the Booker Prize in 1992; many more know that Anthony Minghella’s film adaptation, starring Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Naveen Andrews, took home nine Academy Awards in 1997. In fact, it was the latter coup that was for a time heralded much more prominently on the cover of the Vintage/ Miramax trade paperback that went into mass market circulation around the time the film was released. This is but one of the many ironies alluded to...

  6. 1 Sex Maidens and Yankee Skunks: A Field Guide to Reading ‘Canadian’ Movies
    (pp. 17-48)

    The English Patientwas, of course, not the first work of Canadian literature adapted for the screen to garner high-profile acclaim amongcinéastessouth of the border while at the same time being excoriated by offended readers back home. Phil Robinson’sField of Dreams(1989), based on W.R Kinsella’s novel,Shoeless Joe(1982), is another good example; changes in narrative content and setting were widely perceived as a sop to American audiences. Nor wasThe English Patientthe first feature-length movie based on Canadian literary source material to score a slew of Academy Award nominations:Rachel, Rachel,Paul Newman’s 1968...

  7. 2 Feminism, Fidelity, and the Female Gothic: The Uncanny Art of Adaptation in Kamouraska, Surfacing, and Le sourd dans la ville
    (pp. 49-76)

    Gothic literature, like adaptation studies, has long been haunted by the equally frightening and familiar spectre of fidelity. On the one hand, marriage represents, for the gothic heroine, the promise of deliverance from the psychic terrors of an orphaned female desire that she has tried to repress since being turned out of her father’s house and arriving at that of her new master, and would-be husband. On the other hand, the heroine’s faith in the gothic marriage plot is severely tested by the hero’s promiscuous attachment to some dark sexual secret from his past - a phantom former wife, perhaps,...

  8. 3 Images of the Indigene: History, Visibility, and Ethnographic Romance in Four Adaptations from the 1990s
    (pp. 77-103)

    As Terry Goldie suggests inFear and Temptation,his semiotic analysis of representations of the Indigene in the settler-colony literatures of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, said representations have historically come to be reified into a transcendental signified or pure ‘Image’ (it is Goldie who uses the majuscule) - one that has no ‘real world’ referent in indigenous tribal cultures from either country, but that only signifies, in a ‘pervasive autogenesis,’ in terms of those textual images which have preceded it.³ This would appear to be even more the case with visual images of the Indigene reproduced by/in the cinema,...

  9. 4 Critically Queenie, or, Trans-Figuring the Prison-House of Gender: Fortune and Men’s Eyes and After
    (pp. 104-128)

    Canadian playwright John Herbert died in June 2001 at the age of seventy-four. Although he wrote more than twenty-five plays in a career spanning five decades, was a respected teacher and dramaturge, and enlivened the Toronto gay scene with his drag artistry and activism, he is best known for writingFortune and Men’s Eyes,his exploration of the dynamics of sex and power in a men’s prison that premiered off-Broadway in 1967. The play would go on to receive more than one hundred productions worldwide, and would be translated into some forty languages. In 1971 it was turned into a...

  10. 5 Space, Time, Auteurity, and the Queer Male Body: Policing the Image in the Film Adaptations of Robert Lepage
    (pp. 129-161)

    In the growing body of scholarship on the theatre of internationally renowned Quebec director Robert Lepage, a dominant critical paradigm has emerged to describe the global/local interfaces at work both in the subject matter of his plays and in the methods of their production/reception. Drawing on the work of Patrice Pavis, and focusing primarily onThe Dragons’ TrilogyandThe Seven Streams of the River Ota- the epic dramatic cycles collectively created with Théâtre Repere and Ex Machina in 1985-7 and 1994-6 respectively - critics have pointed out the ‘intercultural’ nature of Lepage’s work.² That is, employing the metaphors...

  11. 6 Ghosts In and Out of the Machine: Sighting/Citing Lesbianism in Susan Swan’s The Wives of Bath and Léa Pool’s Lost and Delirious
    (pp. 162-185)

    During its formative years in the 1970s and 1980s, mainstream Anglo-American feminist film theory performed a double critical manoeuvre when it came to analyses of cinematic spectatorship, simultaneously critiquing and reinscribing the orthodox construction of the female spectator as a viewing subject defined by lack, negativity, absence, deficiency, and failure. Writing in 1975, in her groundbreaking essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,’ Laura Mulvey outlined the parameters of this construction by arguing that narrative cinema splits ego identification and object recognition on the screen between the active, male gaze and the passive, female image, between the projected male fantasy and...

  12. 7 Adapting Masculinity: Michael Turner, Bruce McDonald, and Others
    (pp. 186-212)

    In an article published inScreenin 1983, Steve Neale lamented the paucity of critical scholarship on representations of (heterosexual) masculinity in mainstream cinema, and attempted to open up a space for further dialogue on the subject by applying Laura Mulvey’s then still relatively recent insights on identification, looking, and spectacle in ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ to ‘images of men, on the one hand, and to the male spectator on the other.’³ While much has been published in the past twenty years to fill this void - including important edited collections by Peter Lehman, by Steven Cohan and Ina...

  13. Filmography
    (pp. 213-220)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 221-246)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-262)
  16. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 263-264)
  17. Index
    (pp. 265-280)