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Damon Young on Hetero-sociality and homo-aesthetics in Plein Soleil

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Damon Young on Hetero-sociality and homo-aesthetics in Plein Soleil
May 24, 2017 4:30 pm
May 24, 2017 6:30 pm
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Time: 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Location: 53A Olson

Please join us for a talk sponsored by the Department of French and Italian and the Critical Theory Program

Damon Young

Assistant Professor of French and Film and Media, UC Berkeley

Wednesday May 24

4:30pm in 53A Olson

Hetero-sociality and homo-aesthetics in Plein Soleil

In the history of French cinema, the end of the 1950s is famously associated with the rise of the Nouvelle

Vague, a group of young, male, self-styled iconoclasts who polemically proclaimed the death of what

they termed le cinéma de papa — and with it, the birth of the concept of the auteur. This talk adopts the

“slantwise” perspective of one of the directors said to embody the outmoded cinéma de papa, a

director derided in the pages of the Cahiers du cinéma as “le plus gros plagiaire de France.” Starring

the young Alain Delon, René Clément’s Plein Soleil was released in 1960, at the height of the New

Wave, but not a part of it. The film is also remarkable in that it was the first mainstream French film to

put a queer bond of sorts at its narrative center. In this talk, I argue that in Plein Soleil and in the critical

responses to it, we see how the meaning of the auteur and thus the very idea of the “art film” are bound

up in (French) notions of sexual difference, filiation, and heterosexuality that are also fundamental to

imaginaries of social form. A revisionist account of this most famous of moments in film history sheds

light not only on its masculinist legacy, but also on ongoing anxieties in France about the imagined

threat to civilization posed by homosexuality.


Damon R. Young is assistant professor of French and film & media at the University of California, Berkeley, where he

also teaches in the Program in Critical Theory. His first book, Making Sex Public, and Other Cinematic Fantasies is

forthcoming in 2018 with Duke, and examines the way women and queers were at the center of new social imaginaries

in French and US cinema during the period of the so-called “sexual revolution.” He is co-editor, with Nico Baumbach

and Genevieve Yue, of a special issue of Social Text titled The Cultural Logic of Contemporary Capitalism (June

2016). His next book project, “After the Private Self” is a study of sites and modes of self-presentation and self-

narration in “post-cinematic” media. Prior to joining the Berkeley faculty, he was assistant professor and postdoctoral

scholar in the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan.


This event is sponsored by Department of French and Italian and the Critical Theory Program

For more information please contact: https://frenchanditalian.ucdavis.edu/welcome-department-french-and-italian-uc-davis

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