In The Color of Sex Mason Stokes offers new ways of thinking about whiteness by exploring its surprisingly ambivalent partnership with heterosexuality. Stokes examines a wide range of white-supremacist American texts written and produced between 1852 and 1915—literary romances, dime novels, religious and scientific tracts, film—and exposes whiteness as a tangled network of racial and sexual desire. Stokes locates these white-supremacist texts amid the anti-racist efforts of African American writers and activists, deepening our understanding of both American and African American literary and cultural history. The Color of Sex reveals what happens when race and sexuality meet, when white desire encounters its own ambivalence. As Stokes argues, whiteness and heterosexuality exist in anxious relation to one another. Mutually invested in “the normal,” they support each other in their desperate insistence on the cultural logic of exclusion. At the same time, however, they threaten one another in their attempt to create and sustain a white future, since reproducing whiteness necessarily involves the risk of contamination Charting the curious movements of this “white heterosexuality,” The Color of Sex inaugurates a new moment in our ongoing attempt to understand the frenzied interplay of race and sexuality in America. As such, it will appeal to scholars interested in race theory, sexuality studies, and American history, culture, and literature.
Daughters, Fathers, and the Novel is a provocative study of the father-daughter story—a neglected dimension of the family romance. It has important implications for the history of the novel, for our understanding of key texts in that history, and for theories concerning the representation of gender, family relations, and heterosexuality in Western culture.
In the English and American novel, argues Lynda Zwinger, “the good woman” . . . is a father’s daughter, . . . constructed to the very particular specifications of an omnipresent and unvoiced paternal desire.” Zwinger supports her case with an analysis of both “high-brow” and “low-brow” novels and with ingenious textual analyses of five novels: Clarissa Harlowe, Dombey and Son, Little Women, The Golden Bowl, and The Story of O.
In the dominant discourse of Anglo-American culture, the father’s daughter provides the cornerstone for the patriarchal edifice of domesticity and the alibi for patriarchal desire. Zwinger’s analysis of the sexual politics embodied in the figure of this sentimental daughter raises compelling critical and cultural issues. Zwinger shows how different readings of Clarissa’s story form a sentimental composite that makes her available in perpetuity to heterosexual desire. Dombey and Son illuminates the erotic dimension of the sentimental, the titillation always inherent in the spectacle of virtue in distress. Zwinger’s analysis of Little Women in the context of Louisa May Alcott’s own life-text focuses upon the problems of a daughter trying to write the filial romance. The Golden Bowl deploys the daughter of sentiment as a “cover story” for a feminine version of the Oedipal story, founded on the daughter who can’t say yes, but doesn’t say no. The Story of O reveals the pornographic dimension in romantic and sentimental love.
In her conclusion, Zwinger offers an overview of the nineteenth-century novel, asking what difference it makes when the writer is a daughter. She shows how the daughter’s family romance pictures the father as inadequate, ironically requiring the sentimental daughter as a patriarchal prop. She develops a useful concept of hysteria and argues that generic “disorder” and hysterical “intrusions” mark the family romance novels of Jane Austen, Emily and Charlotte Brontë, and George Eliot. And finally, she makes the case that the daughter’s choice to stay home is not necessarily an act of simple complicity, for by staying home she comes as close as she can to disrupting the father-daughter romance.
Tales of child sacrifice, demon lovers, incestual relations, and returns from the dead are part of English and Irish gothic literature. Such recurring tropes are examined in this pioneering study by Margot Gayle Backus to show how Anglo-Irish gothic works written from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries reflect the destructive effects of imperialism on the children and later descendents of Protestant English settlers in Ireland. Backus uses contemporary theory, including that of Michel Foucault and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, to analyze texts by authors ranging from Richardson, Swift, Burke, Edgeworth, Stoker, and Wilde to contemporary Irish novelists and playwrights. By charting the changing relations between the family and the British state, she shows how these authors dramatized a legacy of violence within the family cell and discusses how disturbing themes of child sacrifice and colonial repression are portrayed through irony, satire, “paranoid” fantasy, and gothic romance. In a reconceptualization of the Freudian family romance, Backus argues that the figures of the Anglo-Irish gothic embody the particular residue of childhood experiences within a settler colonial society in which biological reproduction represented an economic and political imperative. Backus’s bold positioning of the nuclear family at the center of post-Enlightenment class and colonial power relations in England and Ireland will challenge and provoke scholars in the fields of Irish literature and British and postcolonial studies. The book will also interest students and scholars of women’s studies, and it has important implications for understanding contemporary conflicts in Ireland.
In this groundbreaking study, Julian Carter demonstrates that between 1880 and 1940, cultural discourses of whiteness and heterosexuality fused to form a new concept of the “normal” American. Gilded Age elites defined white civilization as the triumphant achievement of exceptional people hewing to a relational ethic of strict self-discipline for the common good. During the early twentieth century, that racial and relational ideal was reconceived in more inclusive terms as “normality,” something toward which everyone should strive. The appearance of inclusiveness helped make “normality” appear consistent with the self-image of a racially diverse republic; nonetheless, “normality” was gauged largely in terms of adherence to erotic and emotional conventions that gained cultural significance through their association with arguments for the legitimacy of white political and social dominance. At the same time, the affectionate, reproductive heterosexuality of “normal” married couples became increasingly central to legitimate membership in the nation.
Carter builds her intricate argument from detailed readings of an array of popular texts, focusing on how sex education for children and marital advice for adults provided significant venues for the dissemination of the new ideal of normality. She concludes that because its overt concerns were love, marriage, and babies, normality discourse facilitated white evasiveness about racial inequality. The ostensible focus of “normality” on matters of sexuality provided a superficially race-neutral conceptual structure that whites could and did use to evade engagement with the unequal relations of power that continue to shape American life today.
A History of Bisexuality
Steven Angelides University of Chicago Press, 2001 Library of Congress HQ74.A54 2001 | Dewey Decimal 306.765
Why is bisexuality the object of such skepticism? Why do sexologists steer clear of it in their research? Why has bisexuality, in stark contrast to homosexuality, only recently emerged as a nascent political and cultural identity? Bisexuality has been rendered as mostly irrelevant to the history, theory, and politics of sexuality. With A History of Bisexuality, Steven Angelides explores the reasons why, and invites us to rethink our preconceptions about sexual identity. Retracing the evolution of sexology, and revisiting modern epistemological categories of sexuality in psychoanalysis, gay liberation, social constructionism, queer theory, biology, and human genetics, Angelides argues that bisexuality has historically functioned as the structural other to sexual identity itself, undermining assumptions about heterosexuality and homosexuality.
In a book that will become the center of debate about the nature of sexuality for years to come, A History of Bisexuality compels us to rethink contemporary discourses of sexual theory and politics.
“Heterosexuality,” assumed to denote a universal sexual and cultural norm, has been largely exempt from critical scrutiny. In this boldly original work, Jonathan Ned Katz challenges the common notion that the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality has been a timeless one. Building on the history of medical terminology, he reveals that as late as 1923, the term “heterosexuality” referred to a "morbid sexual passion," and that its current usage emerged to legitimate men and women having sex for pleasure. Drawing on the works of Sigmund Freud, James Baldwin, Betty Friedan, and Michel Foucault, The Invention of Heterosexuality considers the effects of heterosexuality’s recently forged primacy on both scientific literature and popular culture.
“Lively and provocative.”—Carol Tavris, New York Times Book Review
“A valuable primer . . . misses no significant twists in sexual politics.”—Gary Indiana, Village Voice Literary Supplement
“One of the most important—if not outright subversive—works to emerge from gay and lesbian studies in years.”—Mark Thompson, The Advocate
A revolution in gender relations occurred in London around 1700, resulting in a sexual system that endured in many aspects until the sexual revolution of the 1960s. For the first time in European history, there emerged three genders: men, women, and a third gender of adult effeminate sodomites, or homosexuals. This third gender had radical consequences for the sexual lives of most men and women since it promoted an opposing ideal of exclusive heterosexuality.
In Sex and the Gender Revolution, Randolph Trumbach reconstructs the worlds of eighteenth-century prostitution, illegitimacy, sexual violence, and adultery. In those worlds the majority of men became heterosexuals by avoiding sodomy and sodomite behavior.
As men defined themselves more and more as heterosexuals, women generally experienced the new male heterosexuality as its victims. But women—as prostitutes, seduced servants, remarrying widows, and adulterous wives— also pursued passion. The seamy sexual underworld of extramarital behavior was central not only to the sexual lives of men and women, but to the very existence of marriage, the family, domesticity, and romantic love. London emerges as not only a geographical site but as an actor in its own right, mapping out domains where patriarchy, heterosexuality, domesticity, and female resistance take vivid form in our imaginations and senses.
As comprehensive and authoritative as it is eloquent and provocative, this book will become an indispensable study for social and cultural historians and delightful reading for anyone interested in taking a close look at sex and gender in eighteenth-century London.