A Queer Eye for Gilman’s Text: The Yellow Wallpaper, A Film by PBS

  • Carolina Núñez-Puente Universidade da Coruña


This article puts forward a queer interpretation of PBS’s The Yellow Wallpaper (1989), adapted from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s canonical story. It is structured in three parts: an approach to the term queer, a reading of the queerness (and feminism) of Gilman’s text and an analysis of the queer (and feminist) aspects of the film. The third part also responds to the only academic essay about PBS’s production, by Janet Beer, which ignores the movie’s queer character. This section discusses the queer treatment of topics—the instability of identity, autoeroticism, lesbian tendencies, mental illness, women’s solidarity, and gender and class inequalities—while dialoguing with film critics such as Linda Hutcheon and Laura Mulvey. The queer use of formal resources—light, shots, sound, music, symbolism and scene-motifs—is also highlighted. My ultimate aim is to demonstrate that The Yellow Wallpaper is an innovative queer adaptation of Gilman’s piece for a modern audience.Keywords: queer theory; film studies; feminist literary criticism; Charlotte Perkins Gilman  

Author Biography

Carolina Núñez-Puente, Universidade da Coruña
Carolina Núñez-Puente is Profesora Contratada Doctora of English Studies at the University of A Coruña. She is author of Feminism and Dialogics: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Meridel Le Sueur, Mikhail M. Bakhtin (2006) and co-editor of Queering Women’s and Gender Studies (2016). She is co-investigator on the research project “Bodies in Transit: Difference and Indifference” financed by the SpanishMinistry of Science, Education and Universities (FFI2017-84555-C2-2-P) and is currently working on a multiethnic study of prose, poetry and film from a multidisciplinary perspective.


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