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Romance of Transgression in Canada

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

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 624
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  • Book Info
    Romance of Transgression in Canada
    Book Description:

    Thomas Waugh identifies the queerness that has emerged at the centre of our national sex-obsessed cinema, filling a gap in the scholarly literature. In Part One he explores the explosive canon of artists such as Norman McLaren, Claude Jutra, Colin Campbell, Paul Wong, John Greyson, Patricia Rozema, Lea Pool, Bruce Labruce, Esther Valiquette, Marc Paradis, and Mirha-Soleil Ross. Part Two is an encyclopaedia of short essays covering 340 filmmakers, video artists, and institutions.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7680-3
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    When Tom Waugh asked me to write a foreword to his new book,The Romance of Transgression in Canada: Queering Sexualities, Nations, Cinemas, my first response was, who, me? After all, as his book amply points out, I am an outsider in a band of outsiders, a character on the margins of the marginalized, an ancillary fairy. What insight could I possibly contribute from the drama of my exile? But once I dove into this remarkably deep and thorough work, I began to realize that in some ways I could be its poster child. For you see, Tom’s tome is...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Reader’s Guide and Acronyms
    (pp. xxi-xxii)

    • 1 How to Queer Sexualities, Nations, and Cinemas, or The Romance (and Paradoxes) of Transgression in Canada and Elsewhere
      (pp. 3-27)

      The Romance of Transgression in Canadais a book about queer Canadian film and video – its texts, contexts, makers, and audience. But as I write this introduction at the end, rather than the beginning, of this epic process, I am far from Canada, holed up in the Indian Ocean megalopolis of Chennai. This is an odd place, one might think, from which to reflect on the relativities and peripeteias of transgression and romance in general and Canadian queer cinemas in particular. Yet it seems right, and not only because the maitre d’ at the South Indian fast-food palace Saravanbhavan last...

    • 2 Monkey on the Back: Canadian Cinema, Conflicted Masculinities, and Queer Silences in Canada’s Cold War
      (pp. 28-47)

      The prehistoric stirrings of Canadian queer cinematic cultures are indelibly stamped by war, but in this chapter I will argue that it was not so much the Hot War of 1939–45 that had the formative impact but rather, the Cold War of 1945–60. Yes, the National Film Board’s patriotic propaganda efforts during World War II inevitably reflected the gender crises sparked by the great dislocations of the war effort and laid out a suggestive canvas of homosocial relations, both male and female, that were fortified by the epochal moment. Yes, these films inevitably recorded glimpses of transgender eroticisms...

    • 3 Sexual Revolution, Canadian Cinemas, and Other Queer Paradoxes
      (pp. 48-75)

      This whole sexual revolution, now a decade or two or five safely behind us, is increasingly stirring up struggles and shifts in the great deployment of scholarship and won’t leave us alone. I would like to do two things in this chapter: first, fine-tune and evaluate the concept of the sexual revolution as a way of defining a certain moment in international film history. Second, I would like to apply the concept to a selected corpus within Canadian cinema of the sixties. Probing sexual representations within that corpus – and discourses of queerness unexpectedly discovered therein – may help us in understanding...

    • 4 Fairy Tales of Two Cities, or Queer Nation❲s❳/Urban Cinemas
      (pp. 76-96)

      Claude, Bev, Doug, Liza, the Social Worker, Sandra, and Maurice are all talking about identities and desires, but only Maurice is talking about the bottom line, the economics of sexual marginality.

      This chapter continues the previous chapter’s focus on the 1960s but pursues that decade’s queer cinematic élan into the following formative decade. Here I also move beyond exploring embryonic queer subtexts within the revolutions in sexuality and filmic language to confront for the first time in this book unabashed, upfront, and articulate queer voices, namely four pioneering gay-authored feature films of the sixties and seventies whose dialogue I have...

    • 5 Passagess: Going to Town, Coming of Age
      (pp. 97-145)

      If the previous chapter was deeply rooted in the stable urban pavement of the two leading metropoles of English and French Canada of the sixties and seventies, this chapter offers much more of a spatial and temporal flux. “Passages,” organized thematically rather than by region or period, offers an exploration of queer narrative mythologies about passages from the country to the city (and back again) and from youth to adulthood. It may seem like a catch-all, but in fact these two distinct mythologies involving the movement, potential movement or thwarted movement, of the individual – either chronologically or spatially – so often...

    • 6 Forbidden Love, or Queering the National Film Board of Canada
      (pp. 146-179)

      As all the foregoing chapters have shown, no institution has had more impact on shaping Canadian cinematic cultures historically, whether in English or in French, than the National Film Board of Canada. Even more than other excluded and silenced constituencies, GLBTQ Canadians have had a rollercoaster love-hate relationship with John Grierson’s studio, founded in 1939 to construct our national imaginary, as per my oft-invoked epigraph above. Many of us have watched very carefully the innovative documentary and animation studio of the forties, fifties, and sixties as it became the stodgy old uncle of later decades. Today the board is a...

    • 7 Boys and the Beast
      (pp. 180-211)

      As a queer boychild coming of age in Southern Ontario as the Cold War and the sexual revolution were both raging hotly around me, I discovered that one fundamental element of my socialization left me very cold, namely, team sports in general and hockey in particular. This was a serious transgression, and only at great cost was I able to reject the enforced socialization that team sports and hockey represented, whether as collective ritual of television spectatorship or as even more frightening initiation on the rink, the court, or the playing field. As the glib narrator-protagonist of the 1989 NFB...

    • 8 Sex, Money, and Sobriety
      (pp. 212-276)

      Sexuality is always notoriously close to the surface in the talk around cinemas in Canada – not only around queer cinemas but around cinemas in general, on-screen and off-screen – and though Katherine Monk may not acknowledge this, where sex rears its head, money always seems to be trailing not far behind, inextricably connected. In this chapter I would like to consider an eclectic cluster of queer films of different genres and contexts that frankly display sexuality – coupled, solo, or group, funded or nonfunded, positive or normal or otherwise – and think about them in material terms. This whole book is about sex,...

    • 9 Anti-Retroviral: “A Test of Who We Are”
      (pp. 277-326)

      As I started to write an early version of this chapter in October 2000, Canadians had been plunged into an election, but I was more interested in the minister of immigration’s preelection announcement of a new policy of compulsory HIV testing for all immigration candidates. I was reflecting on the history of our settler territory, which was driven, we must not forget, by overcrowded, unsanitary boatloads and planeloads of immigrants and refugees and contoured by the propagation – both infectious and environmental and even military – of the scurvy, smallpox, cholera, typhus, typhoid, syphilis, tuberculosis, influenza, polio, cancer, AIDS, and SARS that...

    • 10 Conclusion: Of Bodies, Shame, and Desire
      (pp. 327-354)

      Hoolboom’sPositivand Fung’sSea in theBlood have brought us back to the microscopic constituents of the organism and have thus brought us back to the body. Despite the overarching theories, spectrums, historical dynamics, and national imaginaries that have tempted us throughout this book, bodies (and bottoms) are the bottom line. The artist’s cry that I have used as an epigraph for this chapter could have been echoed by all the artists assembled in this book in their fashion as his voice-over continued:

      Which is funny because ever since becoming HIV positive, I’ve felt like a virus

      that’s come...


    • 350 Movers and Shakers
      (pp. 357-540)

      ABBOTT, SARAH, b. 1969. Film - and videomaker, installation artist. Trained at Queen’s and Syracuse University, NY, Toronto-based Abbott started with conceptually rigorous celluloid shorts in the 1990s before moving into art video. Her most narrative-based works were popular at queer festivals, especially the prizewinning filmWhy I Hate Bees(1997,4), a comic reminiscence of girlhood. The videosKnee Level(2002,7) andRug(2001,19) are about space and point of view: in the latter, a floorlevel camera accidentally captures out-of-focus fucking during a thunderstorm, and gender and duration are forgotten in a kind of sensuous queer Warholian minimalism.

      ABDUL, HANA, b. 1979. Toronto-based,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 541-552)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 553-566)
  11. Index
    (pp. 567-599)