A Florida Enchantment’s Ambivalent Sexual Motivations
This chapter considers early cinema’s sexuality effects through a case study of the representation of sexual inversion and lesbian desire in the sex-change comedy A Florida Enchantment (dir. Sydney Drew, Vitagraph, 1914). The chapter argues that a female figure tangential to the main narrative, and whose erotic desires or orientations remain puzzlingly opaque, demonstrates how the reliance on even rudimentary forms of character motivation to sustain narrative clarity is also productive of novel, albeit nascent, forms of sexual legibility. This effect cannot be considered in isolation from a second, in which the coding of heterosexual desire as transparently legible depends paradoxically on forms of both knowledge and ignorance pertaining to the sexual import of homoerotic forms of intimacy.
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