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Vera Cuntz-Leng and Rachel Haywood Ferreira

Rachel Haywood Ferreira presenting the Jamie Bishop Award to Vera Cuntz-Leng. Photo by Bill Clemente.

Cuntz-Leng received the Bishop award for an essay originally composed in a language other than English. She is the first graduate student ever to receive the award. The title of the essay and abstract appear below.


“Frodo auf Abwegen: Das queere Potenzial des aktuellen Fantasykinos” [i]

[Frodo Gone Astray: The Queer Potential of Fantasy Blockbusters]

Since the foundation stone of blockbuster cinema was laid with the release of Star Wars (US 1977), Hollywood has produced at regular intervals fantasy movies with high budgets and impressive special effects that need to attract as many recipients as possible to guarantee commercial success. Due to the resulting universality of these films, fantasy cinema appears to be predestined to be read against the grain, because certain issues need to be excluded from the narration and therefore conspicuous gaps (Leerstellen) – particularly in relation to sexuality – remain.

The method of Queer Reading may uncover the subversive potential of the genre and can open up new spaces for marginalized social topics; spaces within mainstream cinema, where alternative gender and sexual concepts are allowed and welcome. A queer reading of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (NZ/US 2001) and Alfonso Cuarón’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (GB/US 2004) exemplifies the argument that fantasy genre films have a high subversive potential. Furthermore, an outlook will be given about the way in which fantasy movies might discuss “gender, sex, and desire” in the future.

[i] This essay appeared in German in:  Zeitschrift Für Fantastikforschung 1.1 (2011): 24-43.