restricted access Equus and the Production of Queer Historical Memory
Abstract

Through Peter Shaffer's Equus (1973), horses demand recognition as an archetypal historical force because of all of the material contributions of their labor and attendant social, cultural, and psychic impact on the course of human lives and events. Using the film version (1977) featuring real horses along with the famously abstract, classically inspired National Theatre/Broadway productions (1973-77 and 2007-09), this essay examines how the play drills deep down into the past to induce eruptions into current consciousness of long-buried dynamics of the culturally formative human/equine relationship. These profoundly queer dynamics interweave sexual attraction between men with sexual attraction between men and horses. Appreciation of the play's historiographical work depends on re-membering both attractions and controverting evasive modern tendencies to elide the hippophilia in the homoeroticism or to infantilize and project the hippophilia chiefly onto women.


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