From Haunting the Code to Queer Ambiguity: Historical Shifts in Adapting Lesbian Narratives from Paper to Film

Abstract

This thesis provides a historical approach to the question of how lesbianism is made visible in Hollywood film adaptations of lesbian narratives from the 1930s to 2011. Chapter one examines Code censorship and haunting absences in Rebecca (1940), These Three (1936) and The Children's Hour (1961). Chapter two analyzes ambiguous lesbian representation as a type of dual marketing approach designed to appeal to both heterosexual mainstream audiences and queer audiences in The Color Purple (1985), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), and Orlando (1992). Chapter three culminates in an examination of the location of queerness in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009, 2011) focusing on the character of Lisbeth Salander as a queer force aimed at destabilizing heterosexist assumption. It is through my examination of the historical shifts in the process translating lesbianism from a verbal description to a visible depiction on screen in Hollywood adaptations that the social and cultural significance and impact of these historical shifts becomes apparent. 

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Jordan was born in Denver, grew up in California and Las Vegas, then eventually settled in Cincinnati. She received her B.A. in English and her M.A. in Poetry from the University of Cincinnati. She enjoys reading, watching movies and frequenting small movie theatres. Jordan plans to continue her education in film studies and to eventually pursue a full-time career in academia.