Date of Degree

6-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

David A. Gerstner

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Film and Media Studies | Religion

Keywords

Christ-narrative, Humanity, Monogamy, Polygamy, Prostitution, Feminism

Abstract

Although great strides have been made since the landmark 1969 Stonewall Riots in liberating queer equal rights, both politically and societally, there are still prevalent belief systems in strong opposition to those human rights of gender and sexuality. Biblical religion, through its various monotheistic faiths and denominations, continues to condemn queer as a sin against God because, they argue, God, (through the text of the Bible written solely by men), defines queer as an abomination. Yet, the Book of Genesis queers human gender and sexuality through its narrative of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Nevertheless, the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States regulates the separation of church and state, and this has allowed for the evolution of queer rights in governing law. Furthermore, contributions via shifting social attitudes and cultural productions have contributed to the verity of gender and sexuality as a queer identity. Therefore, as a queer artist, filmmaker, and theorist, in this essay I question how the art of cinema has historically contributed to the advancement of equal rights for gender and sexuality. Specifically, in what way does Martin Scorsese, in his 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ, render gender and sexuality to queer Christ? Through the theoretical triptych lens of queer, homosocial, and queer heterosexuality, this essay analyses the cinematic aesthetic of Scorsese’s Christ-narrative. This close reading of the film’s narrative focuses primarily on Jesus and his relationships with Judas, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha. Findings project a Jesus who is not only conflicted in his duality between divinity and humanness but that he is also dichotomized between a conscious desire for heteronormativity and an unconscious sexual desire for Judas, which is divined by God. Ultimately, this analysis reveals that the biblical Jesus, because he was dually divine and human and thus subject to the human psychology of gender and sexuality, his life and its teachings posit that humankind is inherently queer.

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