Tom Laverriere wrote “Cross-dressing in Renoir’s La Grande Illusion and Europe’s Wartime Masculinity” for Studio 112, a WR 150 equivalent offered by the Kilachand Honors College. The assignment asked students to explore a question that in some way touched on the theme of the course, “Modernism and Its Discontents.” Tom conceptualized and researched this paper entirely on his own, beginning with an annotated bibliography and prospectus, then moving through a series of drafts. His intellectual curiosity drove the project from beginning to end.

Tom’s paper takes up a question that many viewers of the film are likely to share: What’s the deal with the cross-dressing number in the middle of this classic war film? He addresses this focused textual question through a broad inquiry into the complex and ambiguous possibilities surrounding masculine expression in wartime Europe. One thing I admire greatly about the paper is the way in which it engages with the work of a variety of other scholars. Tom draws on theoretical concepts alongside historical background to offer a compelling framework for understanding the questions that the film raises about masculinity through its portrayal of cross-dressing. He also builds upon several related arguments, adding to the scholarly conversation in a generous and generative way that will leave readers with renewed interest in what is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made.


KHC ST 112: Studio 2