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The Fist and the Corpse: Taming the Queer Sublime in Brokeback Mountain

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Abstract:

Sparking broad public conversations about the film's purpose and meaning, Brokeback Mountain has solidified its status as a significant cultural artifact. Sharing the sublime object's formal structure, the film symbolically represents the collective trauma that would otherwise result from directly witnessing homophobic repression and violence; yet because the film aesthetically induces a feeling of pleasure, audiences transcend the terror that would ordinarily accompany such encounters. I call this effect “the queer sublime.” Responses to Brokeback Mountain further mediate audiences' experiences of the queer sublime and thus reveal the ideologically charged conditions that govern speech relating to queer desire in a homophobic culture.

Keywords: Brokeback Mountain; Homophobic Violence; Queer Theory; the Closet; the Sublime

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420802206817

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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