Identity and the seduction of desire : the films of David Cronenberg

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Richard P. Sugg

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Bruce A. Harvey

Third Advisor's Name

Dan Wakefield

Date of Defense



This thesis proposes a more holistic approach to analyzing the films of David Cronenberg with specific emphasis on perduring themes such as the exploration of the body, the split male self and the narrative death drive. The study examines three films from visually distinct periods in his career: Shivers (1975) from the B-horror genre; The Fly (1986) from the Hollywood melodramatic mainstream genre; and Crash (1996) from the highly stylized and intellectually probing hyper-realistic genre. Although the surface of the films varies, all share the following: a concern with the central character's relation to the body, the split Cronenbergian male manifested by two opposing characters, and the narrative death drive. Cronenberg transfers the site of horror from outside of the body to inside the mind, explores the crisis of identity through the split male, and uses the narrative death drive to emphasize the male's dive into the unconscious and inevitable destruction.



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