Gazing at Medusa

Adaptation as Phallocentric Appropriation in Blue Is the Warmest Color

in European Comic Art
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  • 1 University of Leicester
  • 2 Bath Spa University
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Hélène Cixous’s liminal text ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ calls for a challenge of traditional representations of femininity and prompts women to inscribe their hitherto concealed femininity into the world. Depicting the love, relationship and loss experienced by two female characters, Julie Maroh’s 2010 Blue Is the Warmest Color provides a narrative sustained by a reclaimed matrixial gaze that challenges patriarchal definitions of women. Whereas the original comic book acts in concert with Cixous’s perspective and seeks to assert the infinite richness of women’s individual constitutions, the 2013 film adaptation by Abdellatif Kechiche presents a different economy. This article analyses how, in contrast to Maroh’s original, the filmic adaptation discounts the feminine stance, develops a heteronormalised take on the same story and could therefore be read as promoting heteronormative leitmotifs and fantasised clichés of lesbian subjectivity and sexuality.

Contributor Notes

Marion Krauthaker is a lecturer in French and Francophone studies at the University of Leicester. She is the director of the Interdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster, a platform she co-founded to support academic research and community events exploring how different historical, cultural, social, political and linguistic contexts impact and constantly reconfigure the realities, meanings and codes of gender and sexuality. Her research focuses on representations of gender and sexuality, norms and margins, and power dynamics and scopophilia in French literature, cinema and art. Her latest article carried out a genetic analysis of the metatext and medical records of the memoires of Herculine Barbin, a nineteenth-century intersex.

Roy Connolly is a senior lecturer and subject leader in drama at Bath Spa University. His research interests include Irish theatre, twentieth-century theatre practice, and performing arts and psychology. His latest research focuses on drama and education policy, and he has published widely on these topics.