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Coming TogetherThe Cinematic Elaboration of Gay Male Life, 1945-1979$
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Ryan Powell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226634234

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226634401.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 23 January 2022

Picturing the Underground

Picturing the Underground

(p.19) One Picturing the Underground
Coming Together

Ryan Powell

University of Chicago Press

The introduction argues that important, often obscured, aspects of postwar gay male life on film become legible when moving beyond a tight focus on issues of representation to consider how films and other associated texts have worked as forms of mediated elaboration. This emphasis allows for an elucidation of how affective dimensions of cultural production and performance not based solely in character development may work to extend certain ways of seeing, feeling and thinking. The introduction explores how a focus on spatiality, in particular, brings legibility to the importance of location and geography in the case studies explored throughout the book. It establishes the need for an analysis of mise-en-scène that emphasizes space as a means of understanding how the specter of the closet has rendered illegible forms of sociosexual contact that do not fit within popular teleological historical accounts organized around a powerful rhetorical conflation of the dichotomies pre-Stonewall/post-Stonewall and closeted/out. In arguing for an approach that is sensitive to this historical obfuscation, the introduction explores how phobic responses to HIV/AIDS have encouraged a moralized understanding of pre-1980s gay cinema as problematic site of sexual excess, resulting in a scholarly occlusion of this body of work.

Keywords:   mise-en-scène, pre-stonewall, post-stonewall, HIV/AIDS, HIV, AIDS, Elaboration, Representation, Spatiality, queer cinema

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