Yi LiFollow

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Balcerzak, Scott

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


This dissertation identifies and analyzes a history of queer politics and identities in British realist cinema from the early 1960s to the 2010s. Focusing primarily on filmmakers Sidney J. Furie, Stephen Frears, Hettie MacDonald, and Andrew Haigh, it traces British queer maleness of the working class by tracking its changing representations and demonstrates how urban cinematic realism proves central to British definitions of masculinity. The first chapter investigates how foundational films of the British New Wave address social inequalities as consequences of class and sexuality to consider how they embraced a sexual frankness and realism with coded and decoded homoeroticism. The second chapter explores the hybridity, fluidity, and contingency of identity construction in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, which were reshaped by contested power relations intertwined with discourses of race, class and gender in ambivalent ways. The third chapter examines the political, cultural, and social environment of Britain in the nineties in relation to masculinity and queer identities of the young men in the era’s cinema. I end my study by examining how Haigh, a post-millennium independent filmmaker, incorporates previous traditions of poetic realism into neoliberal negotiations between his own queer identity as a gay director and his naturalistic portrayal of homonormativity and mundanity. Queer experience, as portrayed in all these films, facilitates ongoing debates around the representation of queer desire, identity, and politics on the British screen.


162 pages




Northern Illinois University

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