Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

"What's Normal Anyways?": Intersectionality in Forrest Gump

Presenter Information

Jillian BennionFollow

Class

Article

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Joyce Kinkaid

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Lindon Barrett criticizes contemporary literary critics for excluding gender and class from a race-based approach to literature, offering instead 'intersectionality.' Literary criticism has typically taken one approach - simplifying analysis by focusing on race, or class, or gender only. An intersectional view of literature offers critics and readers a more encompassing view of culture in order to ascertain a more accurate perspective of contemporary society; I analyze this further to show that, although Barrett brought the term to the surface, society has been engaged in an intersectional approach in regards to film for decades. I expand current intersectional approaches to illuminate society's desire to better understand our own humanity and existence through multiple lenses. In regards to film, the popularity of Forrest Gump reveals society's affinity for such an intersectional approach to culture. Forrest Gump is not the only example of this affinity - the success of films like Django Unchained, The '60s, and The '70s, and TV shows like Mad Men and The West Wing attest to the subconscious desire for this all-inclusive view. Conventional perceptions of American society remark negatively on the passive, anti-intellectual nature of mass media. Instead, I argue that films like Forrest Gump illustrate society's need to understand the complexities of the world and the people who inhabit it through an intersectional lens.

Start Date

4-9-2015 10:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 10:00 AM

"What's Normal Anyways?": Intersectionality in Forrest Gump

Lindon Barrett criticizes contemporary literary critics for excluding gender and class from a race-based approach to literature, offering instead 'intersectionality.' Literary criticism has typically taken one approach - simplifying analysis by focusing on race, or class, or gender only. An intersectional view of literature offers critics and readers a more encompassing view of culture in order to ascertain a more accurate perspective of contemporary society; I analyze this further to show that, although Barrett brought the term to the surface, society has been engaged in an intersectional approach in regards to film for decades. I expand current intersectional approaches to illuminate society's desire to better understand our own humanity and existence through multiple lenses. In regards to film, the popularity of Forrest Gump reveals society's affinity for such an intersectional approach to culture. Forrest Gump is not the only example of this affinity - the success of films like Django Unchained, The '60s, and The '70s, and TV shows like Mad Men and The West Wing attest to the subconscious desire for this all-inclusive view. Conventional perceptions of American society remark negatively on the passive, anti-intellectual nature of mass media. Instead, I argue that films like Forrest Gump illustrate society's need to understand the complexities of the world and the people who inhabit it through an intersectional lens.