Queering Desire / Querying Consumption: Rereading Visual Images of 'Lesbian' Desire in Lisa Cholodenko's <i>High Art </i>


  • Catherine Fox Saint Cloud State University
  • Susan Pelle Miami University, Ohio


Lisa Cholodenko, High Art, film, spectatorship, identity politics, lesbians in film, counter-heteronormative narratives


In this paper we use Elizabeth Groszââ¬â¢s notion of becomings to argue that Lisa Cholodenkoââ¬â¢s film, High Art, offers visual representations of desiring bodies that challenge heteronormativity and identity-based politics. We illustrate how the film turns in on itself and brings to the forefront questions about spectatorship, pleasure, and desire, thereby commenting on how the politics of visual representation are always fraught with contradictions and complexities. Ultimately, we argue that the self-referentiality of High Art draws spectators into spaces where the ââ¬Ëpositiveââ¬â¢ pleasure of easily consuming cinematic images is thrown into relief.

Author Biographies

Catherine Fox, Saint Cloud State University

Catherine Fox recently completed her Ph.D. in English and is currently an Assistant Professor at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. She has written her dissertation on the rhetorical strategies used by radical lesbian feminists that allow for the creation of flexible and mobile identities as always in processes of 'be-coming'. In addition to research and teaching in rhetoric, feminist theory, and queer theory, Catherine enjoys working with students outside the confines of the classroom through educational seminars and political organizing.

Susan Pelle, Miami University, Ohio

Susan Pelle is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her research interests include 20th C. women writers, performers, and artists, as well as feminist and queer theories of the body and desire. She is currently writing her dissertation that examines literary, cultural, and political appropriations of the performative and performing vagina as a signifier of pleasure, desire, gender, sexuality, race, and nation. She teaches English, Women's Studies, and American Studies at Miami University in Ohio.