AIDS and American Apocalypticism
The Cultural Semiotics of an Epidemic
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: State University of New York Press
AIDS and American Apocalypticism: The Cultural Semiotics of an Epidemic
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This book grew out of rage and grief, my own, of course, but also that ofothers. During the 1980s as a Roman Catholic priest, I struggled with theawful and initially limited knowledge of an epidemic, first called “GayRelated Immune Dysfunction” (GRID), later Acquired ImmunodeficiencySyndrome (AIDS). At the hospital bedside of sick and dying people, beside...
1. Apocalyptus Interruptus: Christianity, Sodomy, and the End
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Walking out of the library of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the private Christian fundamentalist school founded in 1977 by televangelist and onetime Republican presidential hopeful Pat Robertson, students and visitors are confronted by a monumental stone and welded steel sculpture of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Cyd Chambers Players...
2. Exile of the Queer Evangelist: (In memory of Michael)
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This film scene is iconic for American popular culture generally and for gay culture, hypericonic: Miss Dorothy Gale of Kansas, having fled the black-and-white provincialism of her home, seeks a place where she and her companion are understood and accepted. She awakens to Technicolor,looks around her, and in a classic example of rhetorical litotes says to her...
3. Larry Kramer and the American Jeremiad: (In memory of Ray)
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When his essay, “1,112 and Counting,” first appeared in the March 14–27, 1983 issue of the New York Native, the city’s premier gay newspaper with a largely male audience, Larry Kramer was continuing a venerable American discursive tradition. Its opening sentences evoked doom: If this article doesn’t scare the shit out of you, we’re in real trouble. If this article ...
4. AIDS Armageddon: (In memory of Jack, who always loved a man in uniform)
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In its inaugural December 1980 issue, the gay newspaper New York Native, which for most of the decade would provide initially some of the best and eventually some of the worst AIDS coverage in the country, headlined antigay violence in an article entitled “The West Street Massacre.” On November 19, 1980, a 39-year-old former Transit police officer named...
5. Mal’kîm in America: (In memory of Tim)
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The Renaissance European imagination violently linked two peoples in such a way that the collision still echoes in American culture, evident in the two AIDS-themed works that are the focus of this chapter, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes and Douglas Sadownick’s Sacred Lips of the Bronx. Although in our modern...
Afterword: (In)conclusion (In memory of Roger)
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In July 1981 while attending a month-long summer institute at the University of San Diego, California, I spent a four-day weekend in a cityI had never visited, San Francisco. Alone for the weekend, I walked its streets as an energetic tourist intending to compress as many gay sites and tourist sights as possible into the brief visit. Very quickly I found myself...
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Page Count: 252
Publication Year: 2004
Series Title: SUNY series in the Sociology of Culture (discontinued)
Series Editor Byline: Charles R. Simpson