Dr Christopher Lloyd
The big easy. Crescent city. The city that care forgot. Since its founding in 1718 by the French, New Orleans has been a feted site of violence, desire, excess, otherness, music and cultural mixing. Its location on the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River makes it one of the most interesting cities in the U.S., both geographically and culturally. This day school will examine NOLA’s representation on the big screen, and investigate the ways in which cinema has defined the ways in which we understand this infamous city.
We will focus on four films that reveal some of the key themes ascribed to the city. After an introduction to New Orleans—through music, clips, maps, and discussion—we will examine representations of gender and sexuality in the city, especially as they relate to space and place. In analyzing Jezebel and A Streetcar Named Desire, we will see the ways in which New Orleans is a city defined by sexual excesses and the strains put on gender roles. The films will be contextualized by theories of the Southern Belle and regional history. In the afternoon, we will move on to more recent films that focus on criminality, violence and policing. Looking at The Big Easy and The Bad Lieutenant, we will explore the city’s notoriously corrupt law enforcement, the legacies of Southern violence, and the relations between race and violence. This day school will begin to unravel some of the reasons that New Orleans is such a magnetic, intriguing and unique city, especially on screen.
Required viewing: Jezebel (Wyler, 1938), A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan, 1951), The Big Easy (McBride, 1987), The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Herzog, 2009).
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