Queer Aesthetics, Playful Politics, and Ethical Masculinities in Luca Guadagnino's Filmic Adaptation of AndrÉ Aciman's Call me by Your Name

Authored by: J. Nautiyal

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138329188
eBook ISBN: 9780429448317
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter details a unique sensibility called the “artful rhizome, a sensual, political, and queer sensorium of everyday aesthetics and affect that liberates sexuality, sensualizes ordinary affective experiences, and deterritorializes the aesthetic grounds of human achievement. Based on American pragmatist John Dewey's theory of aesthetics and Deleuze and Guattari's nonconforming mode of connecting with the world, the artful rhizome enables an important mode of playfulness that reshapes representations of gendered experiences and sexual encounters. This Deweyan approach is reparative in communication studies and rhetoric, which have shown a tendency to privilege rationality and neglect queer sensitivities with the potential to promote inclusive gender practices. Supplementing Dewey's aesthetics with Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome invites a queer modality of engaging the world as a complex organism. I illustrate this form of analysis through Luca Guadagnino's 2017 filmic adaptation of André Aciman's Call Me by Your Name, a contemporary text featuring a queer coming-of-age story depicting love and heartbreak. I argue that this film embodies the queer aesthetics and playful everyday politics of an artful rhizome in how the film's plot and main characters display lavish attention to the ordinary-yet-sensual rhythms of food consumption, language, play, music, and naturecultures in its gorgeous summertime Italian context. Moreover, this cinematic world does not invite audiences into a masculinist celebration of love as a toxic conquest, but renders the aesthetic vitality of human love as a vulnerable and ethical mode of masculinity.

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