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"100 Years of Gender Nonconformity in Swedish Cinema"- Laura Horak
WhenFriday, Apr. 13, 2018, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Campus locationStudent Union Building (HUB)
Campus room337
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDepartment of Scandinavian Studies…

Over more than one hundred years, cross-gender performances in Swedish cinema have been highly varied, from cross-gender casting to characters that disguise their gender in romantic comedies, swashbucklers, and art films, to recent representations of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Altogether, at least 94 Swedish films have featured some kind of crossgender performance. Cross-dressing used to be a familiar staple of the Swedish film industry, but these performances were not necessarily subversive or queer. Most appeared in gender disguise romantic comedies, cross-dressing’s most conventional genre. Between 1914 and 1956, Swedish companies produced, on average, a cross-dressing film every year. In the late 1950s, cross-dressing became less frequent and, starting in the 1970s, Swedish films began to represent actual trans and other gender non-conforming people. In this talk, I will outline the contours of cross-gender performance in Swedish films from the early 1900s to today, using some exemplary films to display the variety of styles, genres, and meanings that can be found. In Swedish cinema, as elsewhere, cross-dressing has never meant any one thing, so we must attend to the specific contexts of its expression in order to understand what it meant. 

Laura Horak is Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Carleton University. She is author of Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 (Rutgers UP, 2016), which the Huffington Post declared one of the Best Film Books of 2016. She also coedited Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (Indiana UP, 2014), winner of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies award for best edited collection, and Unwatchable, forthcoming from Rutgers University Press. She is currently writing a book about sexuality and Swedish silent cinema titled Cinema's Oscar Wilde: Mauritz Stiller and the Production of Modern Sexuality and researching the history of trans-made film in the United States and Canada.

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