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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
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Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

The Scorpion and the Frog: Violence, Sexuality and Gender Performance in Neil Jordan's 'The Crying Game'

With Dr. Michael J. Clark

Series:  LSE Seminar on Chinese Worlds in Comparative Perspective, a Joint Seminar with the Centre for the Humanities and Health, King’s College London

Date: Wednesday 5 April 2017, 4-8pm

Venue: Strand Building Room S2.30, King’s College London

Chair:  Dr Fang-long Shih (LSE Taiwan Research Programme)

Discussant: Stuart Thompson (SOAS)


4-5pm: Introduction by Dr Michael Clark

5-7pm: Screening

7-8pm: Discussion & comparison


Academic and public analyses and discussion of violence within couples, whether from feminist or non-feminist standpoints, have focussed very largely on male-on-female violence within heterosexual couples, almost to the exclusion of other possible or actual scenarios.  Even in contexts of debate where the ‘personal’ is also regarded as ‘political’, gendered inter-personal violence has seldom been related to political violence of the kind frequently associated with national liberation struggles or sectarian conflicts such as those which devastated Northern Ireland for more than 40 years from the late 1960s until the IRA ceasefire of August 1994 and the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998. However, in Neil Jordan’s film The Crying Game (1992), made at a time when there was no end in sight either to the conflicts in Northern Ireland or to related IRA terrorist attacks on the British mainland, not only are conventional gender boundaries repeatedly blurred, crossed and eventually all but dissolved, but categories and types of violence which are normally regarded as quite separate repeatedly spill over and blend into each other, overturning many widely-held views about the relations between sexuality, gender, identity and politics. Originally inspired by a presentation about same-sex relations and domestic violence in some East Asian societies, this seminar attempts to trace the complex relations between the various types of inter-personal and political violence featured in The Crying Game and to highlight some of the ways in which the film undermines conventional understandings of the relations between sexuality, gender and national identity.  I shall argue that the film offers a radically different perspective on the relations between the ‘personal’ and the ‘political’ which transcends both the British and Irish contexts and is still highly relevant today, nearly 25 years since the film was first released.

About the Speaker

Dr. Michael J. Clark (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.) is an Associate Member of the Centre for the Humanities and Health, King’s College London, and of the U.C.L. China Centre for Health and Humanity, University College London, and was formerly Head of Medical Film and Audio at the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, London.  His main interests lie in the study of the representation and treatment of aspects of health care and health-related issues, biology and the history of medicine in contemporary and archival film and television, and of embodiment in modern Chinese cinema   Since 2002, he has published a number of articles on the representation in film and television of various aspects of medicine and biology, especially pain, cloning and genetics.  More recent publications discuss the theatrical and cinematic treatment of shell-shock, madness and eugenics in Clemence Dane’s A Bill of Divorcement (1921/1932), the role of ‘wounded healer’ figures in medical film and television dramas and the place of film studies in Chinese medical humanities.  Dr. Clark has also published several articles on aspects of the history of psychiatry, and together with Dr. Catherine Crawford (University of Essex) co-edited the collection Legal Medicine in History (Cambridge University Press, 1994).