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Wayne State University Press

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Queer Imaginings

On Writing and Cinematic Friendship

David A. Gerstner

Queer Studies, Filmmakers, Film Theory and Criticism

Queer Screens

Published: March 2023
ISBN: 9780814350218
Pages: 328 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 27 b&w illus.
Published: March 2023
ISBN: 9780814350201
Pages: 328 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 27 b&w illus.
Published: March 2023
ISBN: 9780814350225
Pages: 328 Size: EPUB
Illustrations: 27 b&w illus.

How do we identify the "queer auteur" and their queer imaginings? Is it possible to account for such a figure when the very terms "queer" and "auteur" invoke aesthetic surprises and disorientations, disconcerting ironies and paradoxes, and biographical deceits and ambiguities? In eighteen eloquent chapters, David A. Gerstner traces a history of ideas that spotlight an ever-shifting terrain associated with auteur theory and, in particular, queer-auteur theory. Engaging with the likes of Oscar Wilde, Walter Benjamin, James Baldwin, Jean Louis Baudry, Linda Nochlin, Jane Gallop, Cáel Keegan, Luce Irigaray, and other prominent critical thinkers, Gerstner contemplates how the queer auteur in film theory might open us to the work of desire.

Queer Imaginings argues for a queer-auteur in which critical theory is reenabled to reconceptualize the auteur in relation to race, gender, sexuality, and desire. Gerstner succinctly defines the contours of a history and the ongoing discussions that situate queer and auteur theories in film studies. Ultimately, Queer Imaginings is a journey in shared pleasures in which writing for and about cinema makes way for unanticipated cinematic friendships.

David A. Gerstner is professor of cinema studies at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island and Graduate Center. He has previously published over thirty articles in the subject of queer film studies and eight books including Christophe Honoré: A Critical Introduction (Wayne State University Press, 2015).

In Queer Imaginings, David Gerstner offers a provocative meditation on the relationship between cinema, queerness, and the radical promise located at their intersection. Sweeping in his objects of study, Gerstner’s collected essays span time, place, and scholarly categorization to create a rich and multilayered vision of the possibilities for cinema and cinema studies. With an approach to both classic discourses and emerging queries in the arts that demonstrates a profound and moving level of care, Queer Imaginings is a stunning reminder of the love for their work that both artists and scholars share.

– Racquel Gates, author of Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture

In Queer Imaginings, David Gerstner delves into relations of relations—queer self and other, critic and artist, critic and self, reader and writer, friendship, queer auteurist and queer auteur, and more—pushing and pulling and blurring boundaries in an almost erotic way. The result is a rich collection of metacritical essays that are politically insightful, aesthetically sensitive, and frequently very moving.

– Kyle Stevens, editor of The Oxford Handbook of Film Theory

Queer Imaginings takes up the question of the auteur and sheds new light on the overlapping processes of filmmaking and film writing. Gerstner expands our understanding of where the labor of cinema happens by foregrounding the economy of queer friendships—intimate exchanges built through conflict, ‘burgling,’ remembering, and generosity.

– Tara Mateik, associate professor of media studies, College of Staten Island/CUNY

In this essential collection of writings by one of our foremost contemporary film theorists, the category of authorship finds itself both defended and queered: as écriture, as biography, and as a concept that connects the queerness of lived experience to the aesthetic deterritorializations of cinema. Tantalizing readings of Epstein, Eisenstein, Riggs, Minnelli, Honoré, and others are supplemented by a series of profound reflections on politics, aesthetics, and friendship, demonstrating that the project of queer film criticism and theory is one of film studies’ most crucial and enduring legacies.

– Damon Ross Young, associate professor of French and film and media, University of California, Berkeley

There’s a stimulating exploration of queerness on the silver screen on offer here.

– Publisher's Weekly

The range, both in chronology and subject, of this collection should provide much food for thought to dedicated scholars of auteur cinema and its intersections with queer filmmaking and criticism.

– Kathleen McCallister, Library Journal

Gerstner leaves his book with a proclamation on the powers of writing and friendship, not from a theoretical standpoint (the author seems aware that this is well covered by this point), but from a very personal place. It's one that pushes readers to explore and revel in the language and peoples who we surround ourselves with. In ending his vast and varied anthology in such a way, Gerstner launches his work not to an end point but to a new beginning, exemplifying a very curious and creative drive that all great ecriture auteurs must possess.

– George Cunningham, New Review of Film & Television Studies