SoSe 15: Getting Lost at the Movies - Disorientation and Queer Experience in American Film
Talel Ben Jemia
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Dorothy's realization that she has been displaced from her familiar surroundings into a new and foreign place marks the onset of her journey along ... read more
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Dorothy's realization that she has been displaced from her familiar surroundings into a new and foreign place marks the onset of her journey along the serpentine "yellow brick road" in the classic Wizard of Oz (1939). Numerous cinematic narratives of disorientation have explored the experience of losing one's bearing in and of the world. Disorientation can be made sense of not only as a displacement on the axis of space and/or time, as in films like The Blair Witch Project (1998) or Christopher Nolan's Memento (2000), but also as the destabilization of identity and individual positioning, as witnessed in David Lynch's Lost Highway (1996) and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho (1991). In this seminar we will examine the ways in which cinematic depictions of disorientation negotiate and actualize the existential crisis of being out of place. We will particularly follow the lines that can be drawn between (dis)orientation and sexuality, which is commonly imagined to be lived as oriented ("sexual orientation"). The term "queer" historically derives from "slantwise" and marks an opposite position from social and cultural norms and what is considered "straight." Therefore, the recurring theme of disorientation in films that explore sexual identity, and also the popularity of Oz with queer audiences, seem hardly coincidental. This course will draw from the writings of phenomenology, the philosophy of subjective experience and consciousness and the works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Sara Ahmed and Judith Butler, among others.
If you are interested in taking this course, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org , giving your name and indicating which semester you are in, by Monday, April 13th. This will be helpful to get an idea of the size of the class and your level of academic training, and allows adjusting course assignments and the syllabus, accordingly.