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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > LGBT Studies

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Counted Out Cover

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Counted Out

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.

Courts Liberalism And Rights: Gay Law And Politics In The United States and Canada Cover

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Courts Liberalism And Rights: Gay Law And Politics In The United States and Canada

In the courts, the best chance for achieving a broad set of rights for gays and lesbians lies with judges who view liberalism as grounded in an expansion of rights rather than a constraint of government activity.

At a time when most gay and lesbian politics focuses only on the issue of gay marriage, Courts, Liberalism, and Rights guides readers through a nuanced discussion of liberalism, court rulings on sodomy laws and same-sex marriage, and the comparative progress gays and lesbians have made via the courts in Canada.

As debates continue about the ability of courts to affect social change, Jason Pierceson argues that this is possible. He claims that the greatest opportunity for reform via the judiciary exists when a judiciary with broad interpretive powers encounters a political culture that endorses a form of liberalism based on broadly conceived individual rights; not a negative set of rights to be held against the state, but a set of rights that recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.

Crip Theory Cover

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Crip Theory

Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

Robert McRuer, Michael Berube

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.

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Cruising Utopia

The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Jose Munoz

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.

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Dancing Ledge

Derek Jarman

From his sexual awakening in postwar England to life in the sixties and beyond, Derek Jarman tells his life story with the in-your-face immediacy that became his trademark style in both his films and writing. Accompanied by nearly one hundred photographs of Jarman, his friends, lovers, and inspirations, the candid accounts in Dancing Ledge provide intimate and incredibly vivid glimpses into this iconoclastic filmmaker's life and times.

Decolonizing the Sodomite Cover

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Decolonizing the Sodomite

Queer Tropes of Sexuality in Colonial Andean Culture

By Michael J. Horswell

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.

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Dying Unneeded

The Cultural Context of the Russian Mortality Crisis

Michelle Parsons

In the early 1990s, Russia experienced one of the most extreme increases in mortality in modern history. Men's life expectancy dropped by six years; women's life expectancy dropped by three. Middle-aged men living in Moscow were particularly at risk of dying early deaths. While the early 1990s represent the apex of mortality, the crisis continues. Drawing on fieldwork in the capital city during 2006 and 2007, this account brings ethnography to bear on a topic that has until recently been the province of epidemiology and demography.

Middle-aged Muscovites talk about being unneeded (ne nuzhny), or having little to give others. Considering this concept of "being unneeded" reveals how political economic transformation undermined the logic of social relations whereby individuals used their position within the Soviet state to give things to other people. Being unneeded is also gendered--while women are still needed by their families, men are often unneeded by state or family. Western literature on the mortality crisis focuses on a lack of social capital, often assuming that what individuals receive is most important, but being needed is more about what individuals give. Social connections--and their influence on health--are culturally specific.

In Soviet times, needed people helped friends and acquaintances push against the limits of the state, crafting a sense of space and freedom. When the state collapsed, this sense of bounded freedom was compromised, and another freedom became deadly.

This book is a recipient of the annual Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine.

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Eating Fire

My Life as a Lesbian Avenger

Kelly J. Cogswell


When Kelly Cogswell plunged into New York’s East Village in 1992, she had just come out. An ex–Southern Baptist born in Kentucky, she was camping in an Avenue B loft, scribbling poems, and playing in an underground band, trying to figure out her next move. A couple of months later she was consumed by the Lesbian Avengers, instigating direct action campaigns, battling cops on Fifth Avenue, mobilizing 20,000 dykes for a march on Washington, D.C., and eating fire—literally—in front of the White House.

At once streetwise and wistful, Eating Fire is a witty and urgent coming-of-age memoir spanning two decades, from the Culture War of the early 1990s to the War on Terror. Cogswell’s story is an engaging blend of picaresque adventure, how-to activist handbook, and rigorous inquiry into questions of identity, resistance, and citizenship. It is also a compelling, personal recollection of friendships and fallings-out and of finding true love—several times over. After the Lesbian Avengers imploded, Cogswell describes how she became a pioneering citizen journalist, cofounding the Gully online magazine with the groundbreaking goal of offering “queer views on everything.”

The first in-depth account of the influential Lesbian Avengers, Eating Fire reveals the group’s relationship to the queer art and activist scene in early ’90s New York and establishes the media-savvy Avengers as an important precursor to groups such as Occupy Wall Street and La Barbe, in France. A rare insider’s look at the process and perils of street activism, Kelly Cogswell’s memoir is an uncompromising and ultimately empowering story of creative resistance against hatred and injustice.

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Einstein Intersection

Samuel R. Delany

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.

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Elizabeth Bowen

A Reputation in Writing

Renee Hoogland

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.

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