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Strange NaturesFuturity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination$
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Nicole Seymour

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037627

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037627.001.0001

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“Ranch Stiffs” and “Beach Cowboys” in the Shrinking Public Sphere

“Ranch Stiffs” and “Beach Cowboys” in the Shrinking Public Sphere

Sexual Domestication in Brokeback Mountain and Surf Party

(p.105) 4 “Ranch Stiffs” and “Beach Cowboys” in the Shrinking Public Sphere
Strange Natures

Nicole Seymour

University of Illinois Press

This chapter counters universal readings of Brokeback Mountain (2005) as either a simplistic pastoral that romanticizes the American West, or a universal love story in service of gay normalization by highlighting how the film accounts for its historical setting and by focusing on how it frames its protagonists in relation to the natural world. It also brings new attention to the 1964 film Surf Party, which Brokeback Mountain briefly excerpts. Through a comparative reading, the chapter shows this seemingly frivolous beach romp to be a crucial intertext: like Brokeback, it depicts the policing of illicit desire in a natural context. The chapter concludes with an exploration of how, through its commentary on access to natural public space, Brokeback Mountain critiques the contemporary state of Western and, especially, U.S. gay politics.

Keywords:   Brokeback Mountain, Surf Party, comparative reading, intertext, illicit desire, U.S. gay politics, homonormativity

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