In this Book

Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature

An innovative exploration of postwar representations of effeminate men and boys.

Sissy!The Effeminate Paradox in Postwar US Literature and Culture expands on recent cultural criticism that focuses on the ways men and boys deemed to be feminine have been—and continue to be—condemned for their personalities and behavior. Critic Harry Thomas Jr. does not dismiss this approach, but rather identifies it as merely one side of a coin. On the other side, he asserts, the opposite exists: an American artistic tradition that celebrates and affirms of effeminate masculinity.
The author argues that effeminate men and boys are generally portrayed using the grotesque, an artistic mode concerned with the depictions of hybrid bodies. Thomas argues that the often grotesque imagery used to depict effeminate men evokes a complicated array of emotions, a mix of revulsion and fascination that cannot be completely separated from one another.
Thomas looks to the sissies in the 1940s novels of Truman Capote and Carson McCullers; the truth-telling flaming princesses of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room; the superstardom of pop culture icon Liberace; the prophetic queens of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America; and many others to demonstrate how effeminate men have often been adored because they are seen as the promise of a different world, one free from the bounds of heteronormativity.

Sissy! offers an unprecedented and counterintuitive overview of cultural and artistic attitudes towards male effeminacy in post–World War II America and provides a unique and contemporary reinterpretation of the “sissy” figure in modern art and literature.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. restricted access Download |
  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. i-vi
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Preface: My Own Effeminacy, A Brief History
  2. pp. ix-xiv
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xv-xviii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Introduction. Saying “Oh Yeah!” to Sissies: Fascinating Effeminacy Defined
  2. pp. 1-32
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter One. The Sympathetic Sissy: Carson McCullers, Truman Capote, and Fascinating Effeminacy in Postwar US Literature
  2. pp. 33-68
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter Two. The Straight-Acting Gay Man versus the Truth-Telling Queen: Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and Gay Men’s Debates about Effeminacy
  2. pp. 69-102
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter Three. “I [Heart] Boys Who Sparkle”: Straight Female Fandom and Fascinating Effeminacy
  2. pp. 103-134
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter Four. Amplifying the Paradox: Effeminacy in the Age of HIV/AIDS
  2. pp. 135-163
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter Five. “The Sissy Triumphant”: Fascinating Effeminacy Goes Mainstream
  2. pp. 164-196
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Conclusion. “Our Makeup Is Terrible, but I Love You Anyway”: Why Fascinating Effeminacy Matters in the Twenty-first Century
  2. pp. 197-210
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 211-222
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 223-232
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Index
  2. pp. 233-240
  3. restricted access Download |

Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.