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Shane Meadows: Representations of liminality, masculinity and class

Schwarz, Clair


Clair Schwarz


This thesis offers a new approach to the work of the British filmmaker Shane Meadows. In contradiction to the conventional reading of his work as part of the long tradition of social realism in British cinema, this thesis offers a new approach which argues that the term ‘liminal realism’ best describes both the in-between nature of the texts and Meadows’ place in British screen culture. In order to construct this alternative reading of Shane Meadows, this interdisciplinary study draws upon work from anthropology, folk culture and myth to describe the particular ways in which Meadows’ work demonstrates liminality, most especially via the Jungian archetype of the trickster.

The thesis argues that the figure of the trickster describes the cultural construct of the filmmaker himself which can be described as being in-between, whether critically positioned between the mainstream and art-house; between the cultural imaginaries of the British north and the south, residing in the liminal elsewhere of the Midlands; and moving between autographical and biographical registers, arguing how he responds to that positioning with a tricksterish sensibility. Focusing on the ways in which masculinity and class are represented, the thesis explores the centrality of homosociality in Meadows’ work, explaining how it demonstrates a particular dynamic of desire which operates between men.

The first chapter identifies the reason existing paradigms for Meadows inadequately describe the particular, liminal quality of both Meadows’ films and the positioning of the filmmaker himself. Chapter Two explores the tradition of social realism in British cinema and how it works as a discourse. It goes on to argue why this conventional paradigm is not adequate as a way of understanding Meadows’ work. Chapter Three demonstrates how the production of the films is liminal, positioned between art-house and commerce, and how a reading of the body of the filmmaker as a text is a productive way to approach the representation of masculinity and class. Chapter Four analyses the film texts using a Jungian archetypal framework to explain the ways in which they are liminal. The study concludes that Meadows can be best understood through the concept of liminal realism, a new paradigm with potentially wider applications for analyses of screen culture.


Schwarz, C. Shane Meadows: Representations of liminality, masculinity and class. (Thesis). University of the West of England

Thesis Type Thesis
Keywords Shane Meadows, British cinema, liminality, liminal, masculinity, class, working-class, under-class, trickster, anthropology, myth, Jung, liminal realism, social realism, working class, workingclass, under class, underclass, male exchange, exchange of wome


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