Unsettling heteronormativity: Abject ageing bodies and transgressive desire in 'Notes on a Scandal'

Krainitzki, Eva L ORCID: 0000-0003-1178-718X (2015) Unsettling heteronormativity: Abject ageing bodies and transgressive desire in 'Notes on a Scandal'. In: NANAS: Aging and Age Studies: Foundations and Formations, May 19 - 22, 2015, Miami University, Oxford Ohio. (Unpublished)

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Notes on a Scandal (Eyre, 2006) contains one of the most visible portrayals of a non-heterosexual older woman in recent mainstream film, Barbara Covett (Judi Dench). The fact that Barbara, as a twenty-first century creation, is reminiscent of cultural texts that precede the gay-rights-liberation movements of the 1960s raises questions about the pervasiveness and continuation of ageist and heterosexist images (such as the threatening spinster, the predatory stalker or the monstrous lesbian). Barbara establishes the continuity between the types of representation characteristic of a pre-gay-liberation era and a 2006 film, based on a contemporary literary text. This collision of former models of lesbian representation with contemporary audiences – that can be assumed to be familiar with a more diverse type of texts, including transgressive images of new queer cinema – creates a range of interpretative possibilities. This paper considers the means by which Barbara is textually constructed as ‘other’ and as a threat to Sheba’s (Cate Blanchett) heteronormative identity and explores the transgressive potential of Barbara’s non-normative body and desires. The concept of abjection (Kristeva, 1982; Shildrick, 2002) is at the centre of this exploration of Barbara’s transgressive potential as old and queer, the abject ‘other’ who has the ability to unsettle the normative self (the youthful heteronormative). Approaching the abject more constructively, this paper questions whether Notes on a Scandal can be explored from a queer theory perspective, seeking to re-appropriate the older lesbian figure as an empowering monstrous ‘other’.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2015 11:07
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:32
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/2621

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