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The pensive spectator, the possessive reader and the archive of queer feelings: A reading of Constantine Giannaris’s Trojans

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This article provides a detailed reading of Trojans, the medium-length feature film by Constantine Giannaris on the life and work of C. P. Cavafy, released in 1990. Unlike the conventional life trajectory proposed by the more popular biopic Kavafis (Yannis Smaragdis, 1996), Giannaris’s film presents the telling of a life of C. P. Cavafy as a radical identity quest. It is a cinematic work as much about the past as it is about the present, as much about the poet’s legacy as it is about the director’s precarity and autobiographical exposure. As a representative example of the cultural politics of New Queer Cinema, Trojans is influenced by the film aesthetics of Derek Jarman and opens a dialogue with Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston (1989). Even though it follows the frame of a literary biopic up to a point, the film ends up being a meditation on cultural expression, identification and representation. It undermines traditional narratives of Cavafy’s life, using cinematic form in order to reflect on the elements of an archival, genealogical and affective reading of Cavafy’s life and work. In so doing, it proposes that the pensive spectator and the possessive reader are necessary positions for developing oppositional aesthetics and non-normative identity as public political gestures.
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Keywords: Cavafy; Constantine Giannaris; Derek Jarman; Isaac Julien; Trojans; new queer cinema

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Oxford

Publication date: October 1, 2015

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  • The Journal of Greek Media & Culture is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide a platform for debate and exploration of a wide range of manifestations of media and culture in and about Greece. The journal adopts a broad and inclusive approach to media and culture with reference to film, photography, literature, the visual arts, music, theatre, performance, as well as all forms of electronic media and expressions of popular culture. While providing a forum for the close analysis of cultural formations specific to Greece, JGMC aims to engage with broader methodological and theoretical debates, and situate the Greek case in global, diasporic and transnational contexts.
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