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Since the publication of her groundbreaking novel, Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), Dorothy Allison (b. 1949) has been known--as with Larry Brown and Lee Smith--as a purveyor of the "gritty" contemporary South that, in many ways, is worlds away from prevailing "Southern Gothic" representations of the region. Allison has frequently used her position, through passionate lectures and enthusiastic interviews, to give voice to issues dear to her: poverty, working-class life, domestic violence, feminism and women's relationships, the contemporary South, and gay/lesbian life. Often called a "writer-rock star" and a "cult icon," Allison is a true performer of the written word.
At the same time, Allison also takes the craft of writing very seriously. In this collection, spanning almost two decades, Allison the performer and Allison the careful craftsperson both emerge, creating a portrait of a complex woman. The interviews detail Allison's working-class background in Greenville, South Carolina, as the daughter of a waitress. Allison discusses--with candor and quick wit--her upbringing, her work in a variety of modes (novels, short stories, essays, poetry), and her active participation in the women's movement of the 1970s.
In the absence of a biography of Allison's life, Conversations with Dorothy Allison presents Allison's perspectives on her life, literature, and her conflictions over her role as a public figure. Linking her work with African American writers such as Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, Allison pioneered the genre of working-class literature, writing a world that is often overlooked and under-studied.
Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936-1968
Finally breaking through heterosexual clichés of flirtatious belles and cavaliers, sinister black rapists and lusty "Jezebels," Cotton's Queer Relations exposes the queer dynamics embedded in myths of the southern plantation. Focusing on works by Ernest J. Gaines, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Katherine Anne Porter, Margaret Walker, William Styron, and Arna Bontemps, Michael P. Bibler shows how each one uses figures of same-sex intimacy to suggest a more progressive alternative to the pervasive inequalities tied historically and symbolically to the South's most iconic institution.
Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family
When state voters passed the California Marriage Protection Act (Proposition 8) in 2008, it restricted the definition of marriage to a legal union between a man and a woman. The act’s passage further agitated an already roiling national debate about whether American notions of family could or should expand to include, for example, same-sex marriage, unmarried cohabitation, and gay adoption. But how do Americans really define family? The first study to explore this largely overlooked question, Counted Out examines currents in public opinion to assess their policy implications and predict how Americans’ definitions of family may change in the future. Counted Out broadens the scope of previous studies by moving beyond efforts to understand how Americans view their own families to examine the way Americans characterize the concept of family in general. The book reports on and analyzes the results of the authors’ Constructing the Family Surveys (2003 and 2006), which asked more than 1,500 people to explain their stances on a broad range of issues, including gay marriage and adoption, single parenthood, the influence of biological and social factors in child development, religious ideology, and the legal rights of unmarried partners. Not surprisingly, the authors find that the standard bearer for public conceptions of family continues to be a married, heterosexual couple with children. More than half of Americans also consider same-sex couples with children as family, and from 2003 to 2006 the percentages of those who believe so increased significantly—up 6 percent for lesbian couples and 5 percent for gay couples. The presence of children in any living arrangement meets with a notable degree of public approval. Less than 30 percent of Americans view heterosexual cohabitating couples without children as family, while similar couples with children count as family for nearly 80 percent. Counted Out shows that for most Americans, however, the boundaries around what they define as family are becoming more malleable with time. Counted Out demonstrates that American definitions of family are becoming more expansive. Who counts as family has far-reaching implications for policy, including health insurance coverage, end-of-life decisions, estate rights, and child custody. Public opinion matters. As lawmakers consider the future of family policy, they will want to consider the evolution in American opinion represented in this groundbreaking book.
Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability
Crip Theory attends to the contemporary cultures of disability and queerness that are coming out all over. Both disability studies and queer theory are centrally concerned with how bodies, pleasures, and identities are represented as “normal” or as abject, but Crip Theory is the first book to analyze thoroughly the ways in which these interdisciplinary fields inform each other.
Drawing on feminist theory, African American and Latino/a cultural theories, composition studies, film and television studies, and theories of globalization and counter-globalization, Robert McRuer articulates the central concerns of crip theory and considers how such a critical perspective might impact cultural and historical inquiry in the humanities. Crip Theory puts forward readings of the Sharon Kowalski story, the performance art of Bob Flanagan, and the journals of Gary Fisher, as well as critiques of the domesticated queerness and disability marketed by the Millennium March, or Bravo TV’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. McRuer examines how dominant and marginal bodily and sexual identities are composed, and considers the vibrant ways that disability and queerness unsettle and re-write those identities in order to insist that another world is possible.
The Then and There of Queer Futurity
The LGBT agenda for too long has been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist.
Cruising Utopia seeks to break the present stagnancy by cruising ahead. Drawing on the work of Ernst Bloch, José Esteban Muñoz recalls the queer past for guidance in presaging its future. He considers the work of seminal artists and writers such as Andy Warhol, LeRoi Jones, Frank O’Hara, Ray Johnson, Fred Herko, Samuel Delany, and Elizabeth Bishop, alongside contemporary performance and visual artists like Dynasty Handbag, My Barbarian, Luke Dowd, Tony Just, and Kevin McCarty in order to decipher the anticipatory illumination of art and its uncanny ability to open windows to the future.
In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism. Part manifesto, part love-letter to the past and the future, Cruising Utopia argues that the here and now are not enough and issues an urgent call for the revivification of the queer political imagination.
Queer Tropes of Sexuality in Colonial Andean Culture
Early Andean historiography reveals a subaltern history of indigenous gender and sexuality that saw masculinity and femininity not as essential absolutes. Third-gender ritualists, Ipas, mediated between the masculine and feminine spheres of culture in important ceremonies and were recorded in fragments of myths and transcribed oral accounts. Ritual performance by cross-dressed men symbolically created a third space of mediation that invoked the mythic androgyne of the pre-Hispanic Andes. The missionaries and civil authorities colonizing the Andes deemed these performances transgressive and sodomitical. In this book, Michael J. Horswell examines alternative gender and sexuality in the colonial Andean world, and uses the concept of the third gender to reconsider some fundamental paradigms of Andean culture. By deconstructing what literary tropes of sexuality reveal about Andean pre-Hispanic and colonial indigenous culture, he provides an alternative history and interpretation of the much-maligned aboriginal subjects the Spanish often referred to as “sodomites.” Horswell traces the origin of the dominant tropes of masculinist sexuality from canonical medieval texts to early modern Spanish secular and moralist literature produced in the context of material persecution of effeminates and sodomites in Spain. These values traveled to the Andes and were used as powerful rhetorical weapons in the struggle to justify the conquest of the Incas.
The Einstein Intersection won the Nebula Award for best science fiction novel of 1967. The surface story tells of the problems a member of an alien race, Lo Lobey, has assimilating the mythology of earth, where his kind have settled among the leftover artifacts of humanity. The deeper tale concerns, however, the way those who are "different" must deal with the dominant cultural ideology. The tale follows Lobey's mythic quest for his lost love, Friza. In luminous and hallucinated language, it explores what new myths might emerge from the detritus of the human world as those who are "different" try to seize history and the day.
A Reputation in Writing
Immensely popular during her lifetime, the Ango-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) has since been treated as a peripheral figure on the literary map. If only in view of her prolific outputten novels, nearly eighty short stories, and a substantial body of non- fictionBowen is a noteworthy novelist. The radical quality of her work, however, renders her an exceptional one.
Surfacing in both subject matter and style, her fictions harbor a subversive potential which has hitherto gone unnoticed. Using a wide range of critical theories-from semiotics to psychoanalysis, from narratology to deconstruction-this book presents a radical re-reading of a selection of Bowen's novels from a lesbian feminist perspective.
Taking into account both cultural contexts and the author's non-fictional writings, the book's main focus is on configurations of gender and sexuality. Bowen's fiction constitutes an exploration of the unstable and destabilizing effects of sexuality in the interdependent processes of subjectivity and what she herself referred to as so-called reality.
Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me
Jaime Manrique weaves into his own memoir the lives of three important twentieth-century Hispanic writers: the Argentine Manuel Puig, author of Kiss of the Spider Woman; the Cuban Reinaldo Arenas, author of Before Night Falls; and Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca. Manrique celebrates the lives of these heroic writers who were made outcasts for both their homosexuality and their politics.
"Manrique's double vision yields insights into Puig, Arenas, and Lorca unavailable to a writer less attuned to the complex interplay of culture and sexuality, as well as that of race and class in Latino and Anglo societies."—George DeStefano, The Nation
"A splendid memoir of Manuel Puig. It evokes him—how he really was—better than anything I've read."—Susan Sontag
"Where Manrique's tale differs from others is in its unabashed and sensitive treatment of sexuality. One reads his autobiographical account with pleasure and fascination."—Jose Quiroga, George Washington University
"Manrique's voice is wise, brave, and wholly original. This chronicle of self-discovery and literary encounters is heartening and deep."—Kennedy Fraser
"In this charmingly indiscreet memoir, Jaime Manrique writes with his customary humor and warm sympathy, engaging our delighted interest on every page. He has the rare gift of invoking and inviting intimacy, in this case a triangulated intimacy between himself, his readers, and his memories. These are rich double portraits."—Phillip Lopate
Written in poet Michael Klein’s uniquely passionate, unapologetic but humble voice, The End of Being Known explores the lines that define, yet also blur, the boundaries of sex, friendship, and compatibility. This collection of autobiographical essays probes the manifestations of sexual desire in its mystical variety: experiencing incest, falling in love, being a twin, and inhabiting the world of anonymous sex—in practice, and, in an essay about the Body Electric movement, as something recuperative and renewing.
Each essay unfurls in a hybrid of poetry, narrative, and fragmentary literary devices. Here is an uncompromising gaze upon the quandaries of those whose sexual, emotional, and relational worlds collide, yielding no answer to the riddle of desire, yet finding meaning by piecing together personal examples of universal themes such as learning, through trial and error, about love and life.