The Lesbian Intimate: Capacities for Feeling in Convergent Media Contexts

Cefai, Sarah. 2014. The Lesbian Intimate: Capacities for Feeling in Convergent Media Contexts. Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 11(1), pp. 237-253. ISSN 1749-8716 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article claims that the expression of the ?lesbian intimate? is both a condition of possibility and the outcome of convergent lesbian media. The claim is grounded on the intersection of two major shifts in the publicity of feeling: the civic incorporation of lesbian desire (culminating in legislative equity for lesbian and gay subjects) intersecting with the shift of intimacy from private to public life (epitomised by the elevation of the intimate to a national concern). To understand how the lesbian intimate contributes to and is expressed in the formation of specific convergent media, the article draws on Deleuze?s writing on Spinoza (1988). A Spinozist conception of bodies and images is used to situate and think through The L World?s (Showtime 2004-9) lesbian media milieu as an environment of images that responds to—and is dependent upon its production of—capacities for feeling. In so doing, the article conceptualises lesbian as a mode of affection that modifies bodies as lesbian by modifying their feelings. Here lesbian intimacy is viewed as an effect of the contact between the affective capacity of images to modify viewers? feelings and the social and cultural legitimacy of lesbian intimacy that arises through the civic incorporation of lesbian desire and the shift toward the intimate in national cultures. This way of viewing intimacy is illustrated through a discussion of the circulation of images in A Photographic Journal by Jennifer Beals (Beals 2010); images that hide (while purporting to show) their material conditions of production by seeking to affect intimate contact between bodies.

Item Type:



lesbian, intimate, media, audience, mode of affection

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


1 May 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

25 Jan 2019 14:41

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 17:06

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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