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Queer TimingThe Emergence of Lesbian Sexuality in Early Cinema$
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Susan Potter

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042461

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042461.001.0001

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Looking Backward

Looking Backward

Loïe Fuller and the Virtual Erotics of Spectatorship (p.100)

(p.101) 5. Looking Backward
Queer Timing

Susan Potter

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on an expanded visual archive that is emblematic of the intermediality of early cinema: the electric light dance performances of late-nineteenth-century celebrity Loïe Fuller and their early film copies. The chapter argues that Fuller’s on-stage performances, and the cinematic remediations that imitated her disembodied modes of performance, represent a specific response to, and transformation of, conditions of vision, practices of looking, and modes of voyeurism that had until recently been cultural norms for women. Fuller’s visual archive suggests how the developing sexual subjectivities of female spectators were already bound up in proto-cinematic forms of spectatorship that turned on the visual pleasures of the moving female body. Appropriating and reorienting the sexuality effects of late-nineteenth-century visual culture, Fuller’s performances sustained a paradoxically disembodied and depersonalized homoerotic mode of spectatorship.

Keywords:   Early cinema, Female spectators, Homoerotic, Intermediality, Loïe Fuller, Performance, Spectatorship, Voyeurism

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