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2013 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III

Wearing a Mask of Normality: Reimagining Disabled Masculinity in Steve McQueen’s Shame (2011)

Western culture idealizes the male body as a source of strength, energy, control, and movement, devaluing the female body as weak, dependent, and submissive. The ideal male body retains its dominance in society because it is constructed in opposition to the “other,” which results a bodily detachment from those whom the culture regards as undesirable or subordinate. Shame (2011) disrupts these social constructions that depict ideal masculinity by exposing the inner contradictions of gender norms, specifically normative masculinity and its ability to disable and socially impair a visibly able-bodied male. The film queers our perception of an ideal masculine identity by revealing how the achievement of such an ideal is in itself an illness, and this illness causes an individual to experience disability in his/her social environment. This paper demonstrates how Shame treats gender as an illness and queers our current understandings of disability and its relationship to masculinity and femininity in the context of sexual identity and gender performance.

Presenter: Olivia Viterna (The College at Brockport) --
Topic: History, English, & Film Studies
Location: 101 Edwards
Time: 9:30 am (Session I)