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Faulkner's Sexualities

Annette Trefzer, Ann J. Abadie

Publication Year: 2010

William Faulkner grew up and began his writing career during a time of great cultural upheaval, especially in the realm of sexuality, where every normative notion of identity and relationship was being re-examined. Not only does Faulkner explore multiple versions of sexuality throughout his work, but he also studies the sexual dimension of various social, economic, and aesthetic concerns.In Faulkner's Sexualities contributors query Faulkner's life and fiction in terms of sexual identity, sexual politics, and the ways in which such concerns affect his aesthetics. Given the frequent play with sexual norms and practices, how does Faulkner's fiction constitute the sexual subject in relation to the dynamics of the body, language, and culture? In what ways does Faulkner participate in discourses of masculinity and femininity, desire and reproduction, heterosexuality and homosexuality? In what ways are these discourses bound up with representations of race and ethnicity, modernity and ideology, region and nation? In what ways do his texts touch on questions concerning the racialization of categories of gender within colonial and dominant metropolitan discourses and power relations? Is there a Southern sexuality? This volume wrestles with these questions and relates them to theories of race, gender, and sexuality.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xviii

Every decade scholarship on William Faulkner concentrates with renewed energy on the topic of sex and gender in his work, and every time, the conversation shifts. At the twelfth annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference in 1985 on “Faulkner and Women,” critics heatedly debated whether or not Faulkner portrayed his female characters with sympathy or misogyny.1 What, they wondered, did Faulkner think and say about women, and where in Faulkner’s fiction do we find a woman ...

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Note on the Conference

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pp. xix-xxi

The Thirty-fourth Annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference sponsored by the University of Mississippi in Oxford took place July 22–26, 2007, with more than a hundred and fifty of the author’s admirers in attendance. Ten presentations on the theme “Faulkner’s Sexualities” are collected as essays in this volume. Brief mention is made here of other conference activities. ...

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Unhistoricizing Faulkner

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pp. 3-20

For more than twenty-five years, historical modes of analysis have dominated literary study in the United States, and Faulkner studies have been no exception. Indeed, one could say that Faulkner scholars have been in the vanguard of the historicist movement, which is generally seen as having replaced excessively formalist New Criticism, hastily universalizing mythical readings, and rigidly allegorical “psychoanalytic” approaches ...

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The Artful and Crafty Ones of the French Quarter: Male Homosexuality and Faulkner’s Early Prose Writings

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pp. 21-37

In literary representations as well as broader cultural understandings, no Southern city and few U.S. cities have been more closely associated with male homosexuality than New Orleans. In some cases—and especially in contemporary texts such as John Rechy’s City of Night, John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Poppy Z. Brite’s Exquisite Corpse, ...

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“And You Too, Sister, Sister?”: Lesbian Sexuality, Absalom, Absalom!, and the Reconstruction of the Southern Family

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pp. 38-53

In Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, Florence King recounts her sexual adventures and misadventures in the late 1950s, under her grandmother’s iron curtain of Southern ladyhood. After various transgressions— including fooling around with frat boys and an affair with a married man—Florence arrives in Oxford, Mississippi, and embarks on a torrid lesbian affair with the languid Cajun Bres. ...

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Faulkner, Marcuse, and Erotic Power

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pp. 54-72

Following the publication of The Portable Faulkner in 1946, and until his death in 1962, William Faulkner produced a series of essays, speeches, and public letters in which he addressed himself to a wide range of social and political topics. How Faulkner defined the major concerns of this period may cast a light upon the entire body of his fictional work, especially as it involves the exploration of an astonishing range of resolutely ...

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Faulkner’s Sexualized City: Modernism, Commerce, and the (Textual) Body

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pp. 73-93

In a deleted passage from the middle of Faulkner’s second novel, Mosquitoes, a young girl named Jenny is corrected in her kissing style by another girl. Jenny’s partner in a barely illicit scene of what the other characters in the book call “petting,” an eighteen-year-old on her way to Yale, breaks off the kiss with distaste when she tells Jenny that her way of kissing is not “refined.” After some brief discussion, Jenny agrees to be tutored ...

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“Must Have Been Love”: Sexualities’ Attachments in Faulkner

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pp. 94-114

Years ago, George Kent made the passing observation that, while “there is considerable sexual activity in Faulkner”—as much, he said, as could be found in the Kinsey Report—there was “little sexuality, that is, if we define sexuality as that warm and unselfconscious endorsement of the role of the body in effecting transcendence of individual isolation.”2 That was 1974, and much has changed in the interim. I doubt that any ...

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All Mixed Up: Female Sexuality and Race in The Sound and the Fury

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pp. 115-130

This paper is part of a larger project that explores the interrelationship of gender and race in a selection of William Faulkner’s novels from Soldiers’ Pay (1926) through Absalom, Absalom! (1936). My reevaluation of Faulkner’s career proposes that the author’s turn toward the issue of miscegenation in the thirties should be understood not as a moment of division, as Eric Sundquist has powerfully argued,1 but of transformation, ...

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Faulkner’s Black Sexuality

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pp. 131-147

In the latter half of the 1990s, two prominent African Americans from the world of arts and entertainment made startling and basically identical claims about the President of the United States. On the eve of the 1996 presidential election in which William Jefferson Clinton won a second term by defeating Bob Dole, comedian Chris Rock made the following observation on Saturday Night Live: “So we got a big election coming ...

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Popeye’s Impersonal Temple

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pp. 148-163

Courtship, as the opening credits to the popular British television sitcom The Liver Birds indicates, can be awkward. Broadly speaking, this difficulty is transhistorical and transcultural, as prevalent in twentieth-century America as in twenty-first-century Britain. For, ninety years ago, the young William Faulkner (1897–1962) experienced this common difficulty in courting (Lida) Estelle Oldham (1896–1972). His initial ...

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Temple Drake’s Rape and the Myth of the Willing Victim

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pp. 164-183

William Faulkner worked on Sanctuary and As I Lay Dying within the same couple of years: He wrote Sanctuary in 1929, wrote and published As I Lay Dying in 1930, and then revised Sanctuary to publish it in 1931.1 This may explain why these two novels, written at a time when Faulkner was himself concerned with matters of marriage, sex, and procreation, 2 can be seen as two sides of the same coin: They present ...


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pp. 184-185


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pp. 186-191

E-ISBN-13: 9781604735611
E-ISBN-10: 1604735619
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604735604
Print-ISBN-10: 1604735600

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2010

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