Date of Award
Master of Arts
Justin J. Remes
This thesis assists in archiving and analyzing queer artifacts for their asexual “resonances,” with the intent to assemble a multivalent archive. To that end, I examine Alfred Hitchcock’s American film oeuvre due to its acclaim, infamy, and the sheer amount of queer scholarship that already exists. I primarily problematize previous scholarship by revealing how binary assumption has limited a thoughtful exploration of certain characters and themes within the Hitchcock canon. The first chapter examines Hitchcock’s most straightforward or literal representation of asexuality, which pathologizes the protagonist’s queerness. In Marnie (1964), the eponymous character undergoes sexual blackmail, “corrective” rape, and amateur psychotherapy in a misguided attempt to cure her aversion to physical intimacy. The second chapter analyzes the ambivalent Rope (1948), which exploits the asexually resonant dandy persona as a means to critique sexual essentialism and compulsive masculinity. Finally, the third chapter focuses on Psycho (1960) and what I dub the sexual polarization hypothesis, a filmic trope that pits a hypersexualized and a desexualized character against one another. This hypothesis exposes Hollywood’s propensity for portraying queerly asexual characters as underdeveloped and lacking of any remarkable narrative conflict. I conclude by looking towards the future and how an asexual analysis can cultivate its own particular wisdoms, ones that complicate our understanding of human sexuality. We discover that asexuality offers immeasurable opportunity to regard human sexuality beyond the constraints imposed by binary assumptions, pathology, censorship, and stereotypes.
Burdock, Erick, "Villains, victims, and virgins: Asexuality in the films of Alfred Hitchcock" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16323.