James Franco, Queer Theorist?

In this week’s New York cover profile of James Franco, Sam Anderson explores (among many other things) James Franco’s interest in queer theory.

“When Franco mentioned to me, via e-mail, that he was leaning toward going to Yale for his Ph.D., the faculty member he singled out was Michael Warner,” Anderson writes. Warner was one of the founders of queer theory and wrote such books as The Trouble with Normal and Fear of a Queer Planet, in which he coined the term “heteronormativity.”

Warner is currently “off the grid” in Vermont, but we caught up with him by email.

Franco was “very direct about his interest in queer theory,” Warner told us. He said that the actor/director/writer/artist/student had taken an NYU course on film and queer theory and “wanted to continue thinking in that direction.”

“While I haven’t seen his NYU film,” Warner wrote, “I’ve certainly noticed Franco’s courage in taking not just one gay role, but a slew of them—most recently in Howl (in which he’s terrific, by the way).” But Warner agreed with Anderson’s assessment that Franco’s interest seemed to go beyond just playing gay roles. “There is a broader queer interest at work,” he said.

Warner said that he’d only met Franco once, so he couldn’t say more about his academic plans. But he was interested to see what Franco would bring to campus. “I’m very much looking forward to having him at Yale,” Warner said. “He’s coming in with a lot of energy, and has already organized an undergraduate theater/film project (a musical!) for this year.”

Well, if Gary Shteyngart is to be trusted, Franco’s future professors can anticipate a positive teaching experience, or at least some excellent excuses when he misses class:


James Franco, Queer Theorist?