glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Jarman, Derek (1942-1994)  

In both his films and his writings, Derek Jarman's explicit project was to celebrate gay sexuality and imagine a place for it in English culture.

Jarman was born in Northwood, England, into a middle-class, Royal Air Force family, and his early life was spent on military bases and at public school. At his father's insistence, he took a degree at King's College, London, before going to art school. Arriving at the Slade in 1963, he found an exciting milieu, including openly gay artists such as David Hockney and Patrick Procktor, and he showed his paintings in several exhibitions. During this period, he enjoyed to the full the sexual and artistic freedoms of the 1960s in London.

Sponsor Message.

With the acquisition of a Super 8 camera in 1970, Jarman began recording the details of his own life and discovered the autobiographical subject that was to become the driving force of all of his subsequent films and books. His creative work always criss-crossed the boundaries of established artistic media: painting, filming, writing, gay activism, and even gardening all reinforced one another to form part of an increasingly explicit project to celebrate gay sexuality and imagine a place for it in English culture.

He began his career as a painter and stage designer, including designing the sets for Ken Russell's film The Devils (1971). His own first feature film Sebastiane (1975) became an unexpected hit due to its open and helped inspire the growing gay liberation movement.

In Dancing Ledge (1984), Jarman began writing autobiography that combined material from his own life with a sense of English history and the mythic past. In 1986, he discovered he was HIV-positive and decided to make that knowledge public: Without intending to, he was to become an exemplar of living creatively with AIDS.

Modern Nature (1992) is his most substantial literary achievement. It records in journal form his life in London and Dungeness (where he owned a cottage by the sea), his friends, his film projects, his past life, his present reading and thinking, and his efforts to see his garden flourish on the exposed, rocky beach.

In the next book, At Your Own Risk (1992), the awareness of AIDS is greater, and so is the anger and sexual frankness. politics informs his struggles against disease and against the persistent of his society. These books precisely evoke English cultural life over a thirty-year period.

From canonical literary texts, Jarman made brilliantly reimagined versions of Shakespeare's The Tempest (1979) and Marlowe's Edward II (1991). The Tempest is full of spectacle and wit. Edward II modernizes Marlowe's analysis of sex and politics to apply it to contemporary England and to expose the centuries-long oppression of homosexuals by the English ruling class. The books that came out of the making of particular films stand as significant works in their own right.

His last film, Blue (1993), shows a pure blue screen with a complex soundtrack of music, sounds, and words (some from Jarman's own hospital notes) to represent the approach of blindness. Jarman said the screen was blue because you can't see the virus. In the grim atmosphere of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jarman became a fierce fighter for--and celebrator of--queer sexuality.

[See also Leland Wheeler's reminiscence of his friendship with Derek Jarman, in which he discusses Jarman's films and activism.]

Lawrence Normand

     

 
zoom in
Derek Jarman's cottage and garden by the sea in Dungeness, Kent.
  
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Literature
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

Literature

 
Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee


Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer


The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance


Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female


Feminist Literary Theory


American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969


Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography


Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio


Sadomasochistic Literature


Beat Generation
Beat Generation

 
 


   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  European Film

Since the 1960s, European film has included significant gay-themed films, many of them directed by openly gay and lesbian directors.

arts >> Overview:  Film Directors

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual film directors have been a vital creative presence in cinema since the medium's inception over one hundred years ago.

literature >> Overview:  Post-modernism

Post-modern theory has led to the problematizing of marginalized and "other" peoples and cultures and to viewing homosexuality as a social construction.

arts >> Overview:  Set and Costume Design

Set and costume design for stage and film are fields that have attracted a large number of talented gay men and lesbians.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: St. Sebastian

Sebastian's broad and long-standing presence in queer artistic production suggests that he functions as an emblem of the feelings of shame, rejection, inverted desire, and loneliness endured by queer people in a homophobic society.

arts >> Cashman, Michael

British politician Michael Cashman gained fame as an actor before becoming a Labour Party member of the European Parliament where he worked diligently on behalf of equal rights.

arts >> Hockney, David

One of the liveliest and most versatile visual artists of his generation, David Hockney not only has helped break down resistance to the erotic gaze directed at the male body but also has presented gay male couples in domestic--rather than sensational or sexual--images.

literature >> Marlowe, Christopher

Christopher Marlowe represents homoerotic situations and incidents in his plays and poems more frequently and more variously that any other major English Renaissance writer.

literature >> St. Sebastian

Although he has had various embodiments throughout history, Sebastian has long been known as the homosexual's saint.

literature >> Shakespeare, William

As one of the key figures that western civilization has used to define itself, William Shakespeare stands in a complicated, fiercely contested relationship to homosexuality.


    Bibliography
   

Jarman, Derek. Dancing Ledge. Shaun Allen, ed. London: Quartet, 1984. 2nd. ed. 1991.

_____. The Last of England. David L Hirst, ed. London: Constable, 1987.

_____. Caravaggio. London: Thames and Hudson, 1986.

_____. Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman. London: Century, 1991.

_____. At Your Own Risk: A Saint's Testament. Michael Christie, ed. London: Hutchinson, 1992.

_____. Queer Edward II. London: British Film Institute Publications, 1991.

_____. Chroma: A Meditation on the Nature of Colour. London: Century, 1994.

Lippard, Chris, ed. By Angels Driven: The Films of Derek Jarman. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1996.

MacCabe, Colin. Obituary of Derek Jarman. The Independent (London), February 21, 1994. p. 14.

Wheeler, Leland. "Imaging Derek Jarman: A Friendship in the Age of AIDS." glbtq.com (May 1, 2013): http://www.glbtq.com/sfeatures/jarmanpov.html.

Wollen, Roger, ed. Derek Jarman: A Portrait. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Normand, Lawrence  
    Entry Title: Jarman, Derek  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated April 30, 2013  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/jarman_d.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.