Making Sex Public and Other Cinematic Fantasies

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 128 illustrations Published: December 2018

Author: Damon R. Young

Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Queer Theory, Media Studies > Film

Beginning in the late 1950s, representations of and narratives about sex proliferated on French and U.S. movie screens. Cinema began to display forms of sexuality that were no longer strictly associated with domesticity nor limited to heterosexual relations between loving couples. Women’s bodies and queer sexualities became intensely charged figures of political contestation, aspiration, and allegory, central to new ways of imagining sexuality and to new liberal understandings of individual freedom and social responsibility. In Making Sex Public Damon R. Young tracks the emergence of two conflicting narratives: on the one hand, a new model of sex as harmoniously integrated into civic existence; on the other, an idea of women’s and queer sexuality as corrosive to the very fabric of social life. Taking a transatlantic perspective from the late '50s through the present, from And God Created Woman and Barbarella to Cruising and Shortbus, Young argues that cinema participated in the transformation of the sexual subject while showing how women and queers were both agents and objects of that transformation.


"Making Sex Public and Other Cinematic Fantasies is a vital contribution to queer studies and cinema studies. Young’s exquisitely written argument is richly loaded with insight and provocation and is bound to stimulate wide-ranging discussion in the fields with which it engages." — Guy Davidson, Continuum

"Damon R. Young’s rigorously researched and beautifully written first book, Making Sex Public and Other Cinematic Fantasies, is fundamentally a transnational and transatlantic study of how sex became, as the title goes, visible." — Ricky Varghese, Public

"Making Sex Public intervenes with insight, eclecticism, and lively erudition into a period often approached through familiar narratives.… Young offers a fresh series of coordinates, widely dispersed yet carefully choreographed." — Nick Davis, GLQ

"Making Sex Public is a deliberate text that carefully controls its scope and claims.… [It] offers an impressive toolkit of critical language and cinematic insights for a wide range of scholars and is a more than deserving entry into the broader canon of writing on screen sex." — Sam Hunter, Film & History

“Damon R. Young's beautifully written book shows how we might find the visual economy of neoliberalism compressed into the sexual charge of films from the 1950s to the present. This is a gorgeous book of queer theory and film criticism that tracks the wayward travels of sexual difference and neoliberal sexuality through a wide range of visual works. Extravagant and precise, this book is indispensable reading for our times.” — Judith Butler

"In prose as stylish as the cinema history he reveals anew, Damon R. Young flips the script on the sexual revolution of our times. Making Sex Public shows how the sleaziest sexploitation film models the modern liberal subject in all her contradiction, and re-views the French New Wave through a queer and feminist optic. Taking feminine jouissance and homosexual desire as central to how sex was made public in France and the United States since the Sixties, Young vindicates the perverse aims and liberatory intentions of queer theory at its finest. Sacred cows will explode, sacre bleu!" — Tavia Nyong’o, author of Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life


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Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Damon R. Young is Assistant Professor of French and Film & Media at the University of California, Berkeley.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Making Sex Public  1
Part I. Women
1. Autonomous Pleasures: Bardot, Barbarella, and the Liberal Sexual Subject  21
2. Facing the Body in 1975: Catherine Breillat and the Antinomies of Sex  54
Part II. Criminals
3. The Form of the Social: Heterosexuality and Homo-aesthetics in Plein soleil  95
4. Cruising and the Fraternal Social Contract  122
Part III. Citizens
5. Word Is Out, or Queer Privacy  159
6. Sex in Public: Through the Window from Psycho to Shortbus  187
Epilogue. Postcinematic Sexuality  215
Notes  239
Bibliography  279
Index  295
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0167-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0133-1
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