How far is queer identity erased within both contemporary and subsequent reception of The Color Purple?

Helena Dunnett-Orridge

Abstract


Alice Walker’s most famous novel, The Color Purple, posits an explicitly lesbian relationship within the context of a rural black community and is in this sense a ‘queer’ novel. However, this has been largely ignored, not only by literary scholars, but in the film adaptation of the work. To some extent Walker herself has minimised it, due, in large part, to the homophobic and sexist reactions to her work, but also to personal, internalised struggles with the queer identity she posits. Since the film adaptation of The Color Purple (1985) was directed by Steven Spielberg we can infer that its omission of queer relationships was influenced by the director’s desire for a mainstream, family audience and based upon heteronormative assumptions of queerness as inherently unsuitable for that audience.

Full Text:

PDF

References


Bobo, J. (1989) Sifting Through Controversy: Reading The Color Purple, Callaloo No.39 p.332-342, The John Hopkins University Press

Butler, J (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge

Crenshaw, K. (1989) Demarginalising the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and anti-racist politics, The University of Chicago Legal Forum

de Lauretis, T. (1987) Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction, Indiana University Press

Denby, D. (1986) “Purple People-Eater”, New York magazine, New York

hooks, b. (1981) Ain’t I A Woman, South End Press.

Jenkins, C. M. (2002). Queering Black patriarchy: The salvific wish and masculine possibility in Alice Walker's The Color Purple. MFS Modern Fiction Studies, 48(4), p 969-1000.

Kael, P. (1985) Current Cinema: Sacred Monsters, The New Yorker

Leeds Revolutionary Feminists (1981) Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism, OnlyWomen Press Ltd. London

Lewis, C. S. (2012). Cultivating Black Lesbian Shamelessness: Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Rocky Mountain Review, 66(2), p 167-184.

McNaron, T.A.H. (1997) Poisoned Ivy: Lesbian and Gay Academics Confronting Homophobia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Online Oxford English Dictionary

[Last accessed 24/03/2014]

http://www.oed.com/search?searchType=dictionary&q=queer&_searchBtn=Search

Ogunyemi, C.O (1985) Womanism: The Contemporary Black Female Novel in English, Signs, 11, (1), p 63-80, The University of Chicago Press

Sedgwick, E.K (1990) The Epistemology of the Closet, University of California Press

Shipp, E.R. (1986) Blacks in Heated Debate over The Color Purple, New York Times

[Last accessed 11/03/14]

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/27/us/blacks-in-heated-debate-over-the-color-purple.html

Siedman, S (1995) Deconstructing queer theory or the under-theorization of the social and the ethical, Cambridge University Press

Silverman, K. (1988) The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema, Indiana University Press

Smelik, A (1993) What Meets The Eye: Feminist Film Studies In: Buikema, Rosemarie and Smelik, Anneke (ed) (1995) Women’s Studies and Culture: A Feminist Introduction, Palgrave Macmillan p 66-81

Stein, A. (1999) ‘Without Contraries Is No Progression’: S/M, Binary Thinking and the Lesbian Purity Test, In: Atkins, Dawn (ed) (1999), Lesbian Sex Scandals: Sexual Practices, Identities, And Politics, Harrington Park Press. Print

Steinberg, J (2009) Harvard to endow chair in Gay Studies, The New York Times, NYTimes.com

Stoler, A. L. (1989) Making Empire respectable: the politics of race and sexual morality in 20th-century colonial cultures, American Ethnologist, Volume 16, issue 4, p 634-660

The Color Purple (1985) Directed by Steven Spielberg [DVD] Warner Home Video

Walker, A (1982). The Color Purple. Phoenix

Walker, A. (1997). The same river twice. Simon and Schuster

Whitt, J. (2005). What Happened to Celie and Idgie?:" Apparitional Lesbians" in American Film. Studies in Popular Culture, p 43-57.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.