Spaces of collision: queer masculinities in recent Irish cinema

Macleod, Allison (2013) Spaces of collision: queer masculinities in recent Irish cinema. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis maps out and analyses images of queer masculinities in recent Irish cinema to investigate what forms of queerness are enabled through their intersections with national specificity. In recent years images of non-normative masculinities have become increasingly visible in Irish cinema. These images can be seen as resulting from economic, political and social changes taking place in Ireland and globally, as well as the Irish Film Board’s (IFB) revised mandate in 1993 of encouraging indigenous filmmakers to cater to international audiences and more mainstream appeal. Yet while non-normative masculinity, and specifically non-normative male sexuality, is becoming more visible on Irish screens, the on-screen subject is frequently evacuated of his sexuality to function as allegory for the Irish nation. Using non-normative sexuality as allegory risks reinforcing heteronormative power structures and prevents any sustained critical engagement with representations of sexual desire in Irish society. In this thesis I offer a more rigorous critical engagement with the sexual politics and socio-cultural conditions that have determined the shape and evolution of these representations, while also interrogating the relationship between on-screen visibility and progressive sexual politics.

Irish identity has historically been delimited by Ireland’s complex colonial history with Britain and its struggle for independence, which have shaped Ireland’s national narrative and privileged political and sectarian identities over other forms of identification. Nationalist and Catholic discourses in Ireland have promoted rigidly defined gender identities and sexual norms to reinforce a dominant patriarchal and heteronormative order, and to maintain the perceived stability and political hegemony of the nation. In this thesis I use a queer analytic approach to explore the conflicted and often contradictory relationship between ‘national’ and ‘queer’, positing identity as fluid, historically contingent and discursively constructed, and locating identities in-between gender and sexual binaries.

This thesis focuses on eleven Irish films released between 1984 and 2007. I use close textual analysis that foregrounds space to examine how the queer Irish male subject negotiates his identity in relation to his surroundings, and how specific social and spatial sites reinforce dominant norms and heterosexual privilege through the construction, regulation and policing of queer identities, communities and cultures. By examining the ways in which films represent social and sexual marginality through the use of space, and how relations of power and difference shape and are reproduced through social discourses and spatial practices, I am able to offer a fuller understanding of these representations, and the ideologies and norms that underpin them, as well as provide insights into a variety of different forces that shape how these representations are framed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Ireland, Irish cinema, film, queer, masculinity, gender, textual analysis, film analysis, representation, space, heterotopia
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Eleftheriotis, Professor Dimitris and Gough, Dr. Katie
Date of Award: 2013
Embargo Date: 10 February 2018
Depositing User: Allison Macleod
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-5246
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2014 10:15
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2015 16:42

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