The Desiring-Image: Gilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema


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, ...
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The Desiring-Image: Gilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema

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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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Desiring-Image is high concept: it adds a third term to 'movement-image' and 'time-image,' extending Deleuze's inquiry into present-day world cinema and making his pair of cinema books a trilogy. It is also high theory. Yet Davis's book is also concrete and accessible, explaining and synthesizing Deleuzian terminology and illuminating key works of New Queer Cinema in ways that renew their promise for critical inquiry, pedagogy, and film culture. The clarity of Davis's prose does not diminish the text's rhetorical performance, which is sustained and often dazzling."--Patricia White, author of Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability

"This is important and needed work. Davis' deeply original move is to fold Deleuze's film concepts into the Anti-Oedipus and to remap them, and in so doing to produce a distinctly original perspective for assessing and revaluing the films that inspire him. The Desiring-Image has renewed and extended Deleuze's concepts in ways that will encourage the formation of new perspectives and forms of analysis for cinema, queer or otherwise."--D.N. Rodowick, author of The Virtual Life of Film

"The Desiring-Image brings an exciting new perspective on film and desire. Impressive, at times startling in its groundbreaking originality, The Desiring-Image will stimulate anyone interested in how cinema produces the desire which shapes the worlds we inhabit."--David Martin-Jones, author of Deleuze and World Cinemas

"At its best, Nick Davis' The Desiring-Image thinks through Deleuze to explode our conception of the queer cinema canon, to challenge our understanding of homoeroticism, and to consider the ways queer cinema imagined itself in retrospect. This is an exhaustive yet lovingly written perverse intervention into film theory."--Lucas Hilderbrand, author of Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright

"Seductive in its intellect and humbling in its prose, The Desiring-Image marks an important new entry into queer film studies and film theory more broadly. Queering Deleuze and 'deleuzing' queer film, Nick Davis' 'deterritorializing' treatise revives the radicalism and hope of both new queer cinema and the scholarship surrounding it."--Michele Aaron, editor of New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199993161
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/1/2013
  • Pages: 330
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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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


Works Cited

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