Monash University

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Not ‘just a phase’: queer girls in contemporary screen media

Version 2 2017-10-11, 04:19
Version 1 2017-02-16, 05:30
posted on 2017-10-11, 04:19 authored by Monaghan, Whitney Jade
This thesis engages with an emerging body of scholarship on queer teens and youth culture by developing a new framework for understanding representations of queer girls within contemporary screen media. It posits that the queer girl has been dominantly temporalised in film, television and video as ‘a passing phase.’ This occurs through a range of means such as the plot device of the ‘gay kiss,’ characterisation of queer girls as bored teens, narrative structures of nostalgic retrospection and the transitory nature of television’s storylines. The thesis demonstrates how these formal and narrative devices render the queerness of the queer girl as ‘just a phase’ to be overcome in and through the heteronormative models of human development or ‘coming of age’ that underpin many contemporary screen texts. The thesis also argues that there are significant alternatives to this dominant way of representing queer girlhood. The study’s findings locate four alternative temporalisations of the queer girl that operate both alongside and in opposition to the dominant temporal norm. These alternative representations include a stretching out of queer subjectivity enabled by television serialisation; a loosening of the fixity of past–present relations through film techniques that draw the past and present alongside one another; the aesthetic embedding of the time of teenage boredom in film narrative; the fragmenting of temporal moments in online video that forge new connections and new forms of temporal expression. The thesis pays particular attention to the question of how each of these alternative representations of queer girls figure queer futurity in ways that challenge the heteronormative temporalisation of queer girlhood. The thesis argues that these alternative representations offer the possibility of a hopeful future for queer girls and that this figuration of queer girlhood might serve as a model for ways of countering the temporal logics and constraints of a heteronormative present more generally.


Principal supervisor

Therese Davis

Additional supervisor 1

Claire Perkins, Olivia Khoo

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Media, Film and Journalism


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Arts

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