Liberal Spaces: The Costs and Contradictions of Reproducing Hegemonic National Subjects in Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet and Brokeback Mountain


  • Sarah Olutola McMaster University


Multiculturalism, Queer Representations, Gender Representations, Feminism, Critical Race Studies, Globalization, Ang Lee, Film Analysis, Diaspora, Modernity


Focusing on director Ang Lee’s films The Wedding Banquet and Brokeback Mountain, this paper explores the ways in which Lee’s articulation of queer intimacy in liberal spaces reproduces the regulatory functions of patriarchal, late-capitalist Eurocentric discourses of modernity.

Cet article est basé sur les films The Wedding Banquet et Brokeback Mountain, du réalisateur Ang Lee, et il explore les façons dont l’intimité homosexuelle représentée par Lee dans des lieux libéraux reproduit les fonctions réglementaires des discours patriarcaux et eurocentriques de la fin du capitalisme au sujet de la modernité.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Sarah Olutola, McMaster University

Sarah Olutola is a Nigerian Canadian currently in the process of completing her third year of PhD English in the department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Her current research concerns representations of race in popular media culture, and Western humanitarianism with respect to Africa, both of which consider the intersection between critical race theory, post-colonialism and global capitalism.


Ahmed, Sara. 2010. The Promise of Happiness. Durham: Duke University Press.

Armstrong, Nancy. 1977. “Character, Closure, and Impressionist Fiction.” Criticism 19 (4): 317-337.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Vol. 1. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2004. Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Benshoff, Harry M., and Sean Griffin. 2006. Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America. Washington: Rowman & Littlefield.

Boyle, Claire. 2012. “An Ethical Queer Cinema? Hypervisibility and the Alienated Gay Gaze in Ducastel and Martineau’s ‘Ma vraie vie à Rouen’.” Modern & Contemporary France 20 (1): 53-69.

Brokeback Mountain. 2005. Dir. Ang Lee. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger. Paramount Pictures.

Connolly, Cathy, and Gail Leedy. 2008. “Out in the Cowboy State: A Look at Lesbian and Gay Lives in Wyoming.” Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 19 (1): 17-34.

Corso, John J. 2014. “What Does Greimas’s Semiotic Square Really Do?” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 47 (1): 69-89.

Dhawa, Huai Bao. 2014. “Repression, Silence, and Cinematic Language: Eastern Sensibilities in Visualizing Brokeback Mountain.” Journal of East-West Thought 4 (1): 83-94.

Eng, David L. 2003. “Transnational Adoption and Queer Diasporas.” Social Text 21 (3): 1-37.

Foucault, Michel. 1978/1990. The History of Sexuality: Vol 1. An Introduction, translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books.

Grandena, Florian. 2008. “Du glissement de l’homosexualité.” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 12 (1): 99-106.

_______. 2009. “Zooming In, Coming Out: Languages in Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Ma vraie vie à Rouen/The True Story of My Life in Rouen (2003).” Studies in French Cinema 9 (1): 75-86.

Gopinath, Gayatri. 2005. “Impossible Desires: An Introduction.” In Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures, edited by Judith Halberstam and Lisa Lowe, 1-28. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Handley, William R. 2005. “Belonging (s): Plural Marriage, Gay Marriage and the Subversion of ‘Good Order’.” Discourse 26 (3): 85-109.

Härting, Heike. 2008. “Global Humanitarianism, Race, and the Spectacle of the African Corpse in Current Western Representations of the Rwandan Genocide.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 28 (1): 61-77.

Hayward, Susan. 2005. French National Cinema. East Sussex: Psychology Press.

Hobson, Emily K. 2009. “Imagining Alliance: Queer Anti-Imperialism and Race in California, 1966-1990.” PhD diss., University of Southern California.

hooks, bell. 1992. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End Press.

Koshy, Susan. 2004. Sexual Naturalization: Asian Americans and Miscegenation. Redwood: Stanford University Press.

Kowal, Donna M. 2000. “One Cause, Two Paths: Militant vs. Adjustive Strategies in the British and American Women’s Suffrage Movements.” Communications Quarterly 48 (3): 240-255.

Love, Heather. 2007. “Compulsory Happiness and Queer Existence.” New Formations 63: 52-64.

Manalansan, Martin F. 2003. Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in Diaspora. Durham: Duke University Press.

_______. 2007. “Colonizing Time and Space: Race and Romance in Brokeback Mountain.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 13 (1): 97-100.

McBride, Dwight A. 2007. “Why I Hate that I Loved Brokeback Mountain.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 13 (1): 95-97.

Mertus, Julie. 2007. “The Rejection of Human Rights Framings: The Case of LGBT Advocacy in the US.” Human Rights Quarterly 29 (4): 1036-1064.

Mitry, Jean. 2000. Semiotics and the Analysis of Film. United Kingdom: The Athlone Press.

Morgensen, Scott Lauria. 2010. “Settler Homonationalism: Theorizing Settler Colonialism within Queer Modernities.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 16 (2): 105-31.

Ordona, Trinity A. 2012. Coming Out Together: An Ethnohistory of the Asian and Pacific Islander Queer Women’s and Transgendered Peoples’s Movement of San Francisco (Studies in Asian Americans). New York: Routledge.

Osterweil, Ara. 2007. “Ang Lee’s Lonesome Cowboys.” Film Quarterly 60 (3): 38-42.

Puar, Jasbir Kaur. 2001. “Configurations of Desire.” In The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, edited by Eric Brander, Eric Klinenberg, Irene J. Nexica, Birgit Rasmussen, and Matt Wray. Durham: Duke University Press.

_______. 2007. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham: Duke University Press.

Rees-Roberts, Nick. 2008. French Queer Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Rich, B. Ruby. 2013. New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut. Durham: Duke University Press.

Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.

Smith, Andrea. 2006. “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing.” In Color of Violence: The INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, edited by Beth E. Richie, Andrea Smith, and Julia Sudbury, 66-73. Cambridge: Sound End Press.

Somerville, Siobhan B. 2005. “Queer loving.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 11(3): 345-56.

Stacey, Jackie, and Sarah Street. 2007. “Introduction.” In Queer Screen: A Screen Reader, edited by Jackie Stacey and Sarah Street, 1-18. New York: Routledge.

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. 2001. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Wedding Banquet. 1993. Dir. Ang Lee. With Winston Chao, Mitchell Lichtenstein, May Chin. Samuel Goldywn Company.






37.1- Transgressing Borders/Boundaries: Gendering Space and Place