Allen J. Frantzen challenges the long accepted view that the early Middle Ages tolerated and even fostered same-sex relations and that intolerance of homosexuality developed only late in the medieval period. Frantzen shows that in early medieval Europe, the Church did not tolerate same-sex acts, in fact it was an age before people recognized the existence—or the possibility—of the "closet."
With its ambitious scope and elegant style, Before the Closet sets same-sex relations in Anglo-Saxon sources in relation to the sexual themes of contemporary opera, dance, and theatre. Frantzen offers a comprehensive analysis of sources from the seventh to the twelfth century and traces Anglo-Saxon same-sex behavior through the age of Chaucer and into the Renaissance.
"Frantzen's marvelous book . . . opens up a world most readers will never have even known was there. It's a difficult topic, but Frantzen's comprehensive, readable and even wryly funny treatment makes this an unexpected pleasure."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
One of the most urgent tasks for gay studies today, James Creech argues, is the retrieval of a repressed, "closeted" literary heritage. But contradictions and problems cloud even the most basic theoretical questions: What does a lesbian or gay reading of a literary text require or presume? Can we talk about a homosexual writer expressing him- or herself before the invention of "homosexuality"? Was it possible for a writer like Herman Melville, for example, to create literary works linked to his own prohibited eros?
In Closet Writing/Gay Reading, Creech shows how a literary critic can be receptive to implicit and closeted sexual content. Forcefully advocating a tactic of identification and projection in literary analysis, he lends renewed currency to the kind of "sentimental" response to literature that continental theory—particularly deconstruction—has sought to discredit.
In the second half of his book, Creech sets out to analyze what he considers the exemplary novel of the nineteenth-century closet, Melville's Pierre, or: The Ambiguities. By approaching Pierre as the gay man Melville longed to have as its reader, Creech is able to decipher the novel's "encrypted erotics" and to reveal that Melville's apparent tale of incest is actually a homosexual novel in disguise. The closeted "address" to queer-sensitive readers that Pierre disseminates finally receives a critical reading that strives to be explicit, shareable, and public.
This anthology offers readers an
array of viewpoints on the use of literature to confront AIDS as a social, literary,
and medical phenomenon. A substantial annotated bibliography allows readers
to pursue other fictional, biographical, poetic, and dramatic works on AIDS,
as well as criticism and analysis of AIDS writing.
Ronald R. Butters, John M. Clum, and Michael Moon, eds. Duke University Press, 1989 Library of Congress PS169.H65D56 1989 | Dewey Decimal 810.9353
The editors have gathered essays that not only make a major contribution to the effort to replace homophobic discourse, but also speak persuasively to all readers interested in literature or literary history, contemporary theory, and popular culture.
Guys Like Us considers how writers of the 1950s and '60s struggled to craft literature that countered the politics of consensus and anticommunist hysteria in America, and how notions of masculinity figured in their effort. Michael Davidson examines a wide range of postwar literature, from the fiction of Jack Kerouac to the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank O'Hara, Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath. He also explores the connection between masculinity and sexuality in films such as Chinatown and The Lady from Shanghai, as well as television shows, plays, and magazines from the period. What results is a virtuoso work that looks at American poetic and artistic innovation through the revealing lenses of gender and history.
"Canonized for being insufficiently American although he took America as his subject, chastised for obscurity by readers who would not allow or would not read homosexual meanings, Crane embodies many understandings of America, and of the predicament of the gay writer."—Voice Literary Supplement
"A brilliant critical model for understanding how textuality and sexuality can produce pervasive effects on each other in the writing of a figure like Crane."—Michael Moon, Duke University
The central figure in black gay literary history, James Baldwin has become a familiar touchstone for queer scholarship in the academy. Matt Brim’s James Baldwin and the Queer Imagination draws on the contributions of queer theory and black queer studies to critically engage with and complicate the project of queering Baldwin and his work. Brim argues that Baldwin animates and, in contrast, disrupts both the black gay literary tradition and the queer theoretical enterprise that have claimed him. More paradoxically, even as Baldwin’s fiction brilliantly succeeds in imagining queer intersections of race and sexuality, it simultaneously exhibits striking queer failures, whether exploiting gay love or erasing black lesbian desire. Brim thus argues that Baldwin’s work is deeply marked by ruptures of the “unqueer” into transcendent queer thought—and that readers must sustain rather than override this paradoxical dynamic within acts of queer imagination.
Scott Derrick has written an original book that contributes significantly to current revisions of the nineteenth-century American literary tradition's representation of gender and sexuality. His interpretation of feminist, lesbian-feminist, and gay issues in nineteenth-century American literature as complementary enlarges our historical understanding and helps build the coalition politics needed in these areas."-John Carlos Rowe, University of California, Irvine
Recent gender-based scholarship on nineteenth-century American literature has established male authors' crucial awareness of the competition from popular women writers. And critical work in gay studies and queer theory has stressed the importance in canonical American literature of homoerotic relations between men, even before "homosexuality" became codified at the end of the century. Scott Derrick draws on these insights to explore the ways in which male authors struggle to refigure literature-historically devalued as feminine-as a masculine and heterosexual enterprise. Derrick focuses on scenes of compositional crisis that reveal how male identity itself is at risk in the perils and possibilities of being a male author in a feminized literary marketplace.
He suggests that traditionally valued texts by Hawthorne, Poe, James, Sinclair, and Crane have at their core combustible four-sided conflicts between feminine identifications and masculine distancings, homoerotic longings and homophobic dreads, conflicts which are largely determined by domestic ideals of male and female roles within the nineteenth-century family. The negotiation of such conflicts is controlled by the nature of fiction writing, which both frees the imagination to explore forbidden fantasies and harnesses the imagination to public understandings of the proper form and content of fiction. Thus Monumental Anxieties also contributes to recent debates about the social shaping of contemporary homosexuality and to the history of American masculinity.
Edited by Robert K. Martin and George Piggford University of Chicago Press, 1997 Library of Congress PR6011.O58Z8335 1997 | Dewey Decimal 823.912
This groundbreaking volume presents a radical revision of gay criticism and focuses on E. M. Forster's place in the emerging field of queer studies.
Many previous critics of Forster downplayed his homosexuality or read Forster naively in terms of gay liberation. This collection situates Forster within the Bloomsbury Group and examines his relations to major figures such as Henry James, Edward Carpenter, and Virginia Woolf. Particular attention is paid to Forster's several accounts of India and their troubled relation to the British colonial enterprise. Analyzing a wide range of Forster's work, the authors examine material from Forster's undergraduate writings to stories written more than a half-century later.
A landmark book for the study of gender in literature, Queer Forster brings the terms "queer" and "gay" into conversation, opening up a dialogue on wider dimensions of theory and allowing a major revaluation of modernist inventions of sexual identity.
Re-Viewing James Baldwin
Quentin Miller Temple University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS3552.A45Z865 2000 | Dewey Decimal 818.5409
This new collection of essays presents a critical reappraisal of James Baldwin's work, looking beyond the commercial success of some of Baldwin's early writings such as Go Tell It on the Mountain and Notes of a Native Son. Focusing on Baldwin's critically undervalued early works and the virtually neglected later ones the contributors illuminate little-known aspects of this daring author's work and highlight his accomplishments as an experimental writer. Attentive to his innovations in style and form, Re-Viewing James Baldwin reveals an author who continually challenged the notion of unity as he tackled matters of social justice, sexuality, and racial identity. As volume editor D. Quentin Miller notes, "what has been lost is a complete portrait of [Baldwin's] tremendously rich intellectual journey that illustrates the direction of African American thought and culture in the late twentieth century."
This is an important book for anyone interested in Baldwin's work. It will engage readers interested in literature and African American Studies.
In The Ruling Passion, Christopher Lane examines the relationship between masculinity, homosexual desire, and empire in British colonialist and imperialist fictions at the turn of the twentieth century. Questioning the popular assumption that Britain’s empire functioned with symbolic efficiency on sublimated desire, this book presents a counterhistory of the empire’s many layers of conflict and ambivalence. Through attentive readings of sexual and political allegory in the work of Kipling, Forster, James, Beerbohm, Firbank, and others—and deft use of psychoanalytic theory—The Ruling Passion interprets turbulent scenes of masculine identification and pleasure, power and mastery, intimacy and antagonism. By foregrounding the shattering effects of male homosexuality and interracial desire, and by insisting on the centrality of unconscious fantasy and the death drive, The Ruling Passion examines the startling recurrence of colonial failure in narratives of symbolic doubt and ontological crisis. Lane argues compellingly that Britain can progress culturally and politically only when it has relinquished its residual fantasies of global mastery.
In A Small Boy and Others, Michael Moon makes a vital contributon to our understanding of the dynamics of sexuality and identity in modern American culture. He explores a wide array of literary, artistic, and theatrical performances ranging from the memoirs of Henry James and the dances of Vaslav Nijinsky to the Pop paintings of Andy Warhol and such films as Midnight Cowboy, Blue Velvet, and Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures.
Moon illuminates the careers of James, Warhol, and others by examining the imaginative investments of their protogay childhoods in their work in ways that enable new, more complex cultural readings. He deftly engages notions of initiation and desire not within the traditional framework of “sexual orientation” but through the disorienting effects of imitation. Whether invoking the artist Joseph Cornell’s early fascination with the Great Houdini or turning his attention to James’s self-described “initiation into style” at the age of twelve—when he first encountered the homoerotic imagery in paintings by David, Géricault, and Girodet—Moon reveals how the works of these artists emerge from an engagement that is obsessive to the point of “queerness.”
Rich in historical detail and insistent in its melding of the recent with the remote, the literary with the visual, the popular with the elite, A Small Boy and Others presents a hitherto unimagined tradition of brave and outrageous queer invention. This long-awaited contribution from Moon will be welcomed by all those engaged in literary, cultural, and queer studies.
Victorian Sexual Dissidence
Edited by Richard Dellamora University of Chicago Press, 1999 Library of Congress PR468.H65V53 1999 | Dewey Decimal 820.9353
Recent critical and historical work on the late-Victorian period has furnished a vocabulary for discussing gender and sexuality. These popular terms include categories such as homo/hetero, patriarchal/feminist, and masculine/effeminate. This collection exploits this framework—while refining and resisting it in places—to show how certain Victorians imagined difference in ways that continue to challenge us today.
One essay, for example, traces the remarkable feminist appropriation of male-identified fields of study, such as Classical philology. Others address the validation of male bodies as objects of desire in writing, painting, and emergent modernist choreography. The writings shed light on the diverse interests served by a range of cultural practitioners and on the complex ways in which the late Victorians invented themselves as modern subjects.
This volume will be essential reading for students of British literary and cultural history as well as for those interested in feminist, gay, and lesbian studies.
Contributors are: Oliver Buckton, Richard Dellamora, Dennis Denisoff, Regenia Gagnier, Eric Haralson, Andrew Hewitt, Christopher Lane, Thaïs Morgan, Yopie Prins, Kathy Alexis Psomiades, Julia Saville, Robert Sulcer, Jr., Martha Vicinus.