ReFocus: The Films of Steve McQueen

Edited by Thomas Austin

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Explores British director Steve McQueen’s diverse output, from video installations to independent cinema to Hollywood to the BBC

  • The first full book-length study of McQueen to be published in English
  • Investigates the landmark television series Small Axe, in addition to his Hollywood films (Widows, 12 Years A Slave), independent titles (Shame, Hunger) and gallery installations
  • Draws on multiple methods to explore this wide body of work, including political contextualisation, textual analysis, institutional studies and intertextual comparisons

Working across a range of formats, from video art and gallery installations to independent cinema to Hollywood to the BBC, Steve McQueen’s prodigious output has been marked by formal ambition and political urgency.

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Introduction: Why Steve McQueen matters - Thomas Austin

Part One

1. From Exodus to Small Axe: Steve McQueen’s filmic world of two halves - Elisabetta Fabrizi

2. Interrogating surplus liveness: Girls, Tricky - James Harvey

3. Eye witness: memorialising humanity in Steve McQueen’s Hunger - Eugene McNamee

4. Shame and the City: Subverting neoliberal, New York singleton culture in Shame - Niall Richardson

5. If it is to be done, how: considering a Robeson biopic - Shana Redmond

6. The Slave narrative and filmic aesthetics: Steve McQueen, Solomon Northup, and colonial violence - Philip Kaisary

7. Working for / working with / working against: Widows and the politics and poetics of genre - Matthias Grotkopp

Part Two

8. Is Small Axe cinema or television and does it matter? Discourses of authorship and production in the publicity for Small Axe - Christine Geraghty

9. Small Axe and / as cinematic television - Hannah Andrews

10. Love in a cold climate: Lovers Rock - Thomas Austin

11. Dub, ecstasy and collective memory in Lovers Rock - Kwame Philips

12. The Burden of expectation: where are the women in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films? - Patricia Francis

13. Boy with Flag and Black British experience in Handsworth Songs and Red, White and Blue - Thomas Austin

14. Small Axe is a start: an interview with Bernard Coard

This book shines a spotlight on the visual brilliance of Steve McQueen's films. Backed by original research that blends textual analysis with socio-cultural exploration, each chapter offers insights into how McQueen has navigated diverse mediums, aesthetics, and politics. A primary reference point for those interested in the significance of McQueen in contemporary art and culture.

Sarita Malik, Brunel University London
Thomas Austin is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Sussex, UK.

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