What is the working title of your dissertation?
My current working title is ‘Hats, Jackets, and Two Bloody Shirts: Costumes, Masculinity, and Genre Subversion in Brokeback Mountain’ but that will probably change by the time I’m finished.
What led you to choose this subject?
I’ve really always been fascinated by film and costumes, and as the course progressed I found myself gravitating more and more towards that topic. For my second essay and my virtual exhibition I focused on costume design in Hollywood’s Golden Age. In my research for those projects I became more interested in costumes that you don’t particularly notice, but definitely have an impact on your understanding of the characters, their emotions, and their situations. Brokeback Mountain is one of those films to me where you may not necessarily notice the costumes (and that’s a good thing!), but you feel them and they contribute enormously to our understanding of the characters. From there I began to think about it in terms of other Western films and how it compares and contrasts, and my topic really developed from that comparison.
Favorite book/article you’ve read for your dissertation so far and why?
I love Deborah Nadoolman Landis’s catalogue from the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was such a fantastic exhibition and the catalogue is beautiful. I always end up getting sidetracked from what I’m meant to be reading when I use it because it’s all so fun to look at! I’ve also really enjoyed reading David Greven’s book Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush, just a fascinating read with a great discussion of evolving ideas of masculinity in film in the late 20th and early 21st century.
Favorite image/object in your dissertation and why?
I love them all, but I think my favorite has to be one of the most iconic/memorable images from Brokeback Mountain of our two heroes Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar on the titular Brokeback Mountain, where Jack is standing up and he playfully lassoes Ennis. It’s a beautiful shot in the film that really contrasts the grandeur of their setting with the intimacy of their relationship. It encapsulates a lot of what I’m trying to say in my dissertation about the contrast between iconic images of cowboy mythology and a more modern, emotional ideal of masculinity.
Favorite place to work?
My favorite place to work is probably the Reuben Library at the British Film Institute, it has a lot of the books I need and is a really nice, quiet, small work environment. I also love working at the café at Foyle’s bookstore.