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ENGC15H3 Lecture Notes - Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag, Androgyny

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Pouneh Saeedi

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ENGC15 Susan Sontag, Camp, Against Interpretation
Element of extravagance
Over-the-top extravagance
Not everything over-the-top is camp
o If you gain some pleasure from it, it isn‟t considered camp
Associated with the ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical and the effeminate behaviour
o Effeminate = she talks about the androgyny of camp
Virginia Woolf, androgyny in A Room of One‟s Own
The male and the female together
o Women‟s clothes of the twenties (feather boas, fringed and beaded dresses, etc.)
Flashy and gaudy stuff
o Zuleika Dobson, by Max Beerbohm, about a femme fatale prone to extravagance
o Paintings by Audrey Breadsley
Surplus of flesh, the clothes, cartoonish aspect
o Greta Garbo
Her androgyny makes her camp
o King Kong the film
It‟s campy because of its ostentatiousness
monstrous” = has element of showing, and we have that associated with camp,
because it‟s ostentatious (ex. demonstrate)
With the camp taste of androgyny, there‟s also the exaggeration of sexual characteristics and
personality mannerisms
10. Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It's not a lamp, but a "lamp"; not a woman, but a "woman."
To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest
extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.
11. Camp is the triumph of the epicene style. (The convertibility of "man" and "woman," "person" and
"thing.") But all style, that is, artifice, is, ultimately, epicene. Life is not stylish. Neither is nature.
Epicene = one form to mean either female or male
Dividing line in 18th century: the camp back then patronized nature or remade it into something
o Patronized the past
Today‟s Camp: effaces nature/contradicts it outright
o Taste to the past is sentimental
The mannerism: in painting, imitated the manner of working, but not the essence and soul of it
o Highly florid style and intellectual sophistication
o Very flashy, excessive use of rhetoric
o Could be example of camp
o Highly stylized poses and no clear perspective
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