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Cultural Politics--Queer Reading

By Alan Sinfield

Was Shakespeare gay? Is The Merchant of Venice anti-Semitic? How does mainstream reading differ from that of subcultural groups? In this lively and readable book, Alan Sinfield challenges the assumptions of English literature and investigates the principles and practices that may inform lesbian and gay reading.

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The Damned Don't Cry—They Just Disappear

The Life and Works of Harry Hervey

Harlan Greene

In The Damned Don’t Cry—They Just Disappear, literary historian and Lamba Award–winning novelist Harlan Greene has created a portrait of a nearly forgotten southern writer, unearthing information from archives, rare books, film libraries, and small-town newspapers. Greene brings Harry Hervey (1900–1951) to life and explicates his works to reveal him as a hardworking writer and master of many genres, bravely unwilling to conform to conventional values. As Greene illustrates, Hervey's novels, short stories, nonfiction books, and film scripts contain complex mixtures of history and thinly disguised homoerotic situations and themes. They blend local color, naturalism, melodrama, and psychological and sexual truths that provide a view to the circles in which he moved. Living openly with his male lover in Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, Hervey set novels in these cities that scandalized the locals and critics as well. He challenged the sexual mores of his day, sometimes subtly and at other times brazenly presenting texts that told one story to gay male readers, while still courting a mainstream audience. His novels and nonfiction may have been coded and thus escaped detection in their day, but twenty-first century readers can decipher them easily. Greene also discusses Hervey's travel books and successful Hollywood scriptwriting, as well as his use of exotic elements from Asian cultures. The iconic film Shanghai Express, starring Marlene Dietrich, was based on one of his original stories. He also wrote some of the first travel books on Indochina, with descriptions of male and female prostitution and allusions to his own sexual adventures, which still make for sensational reading today. Despite Hervey's output and his perseverance in presenting gay characters and themes as openly as he could, he has not been included in any survey of twentieth-century gay writers. Greene now rectifies this omission, providing the first book-length study of Hervey's life and work and the first scholarly attention to him in more than fifty years. It furthers our understanding of gay life in the South, as well as the impact of gay artists on popular culture in the first half of the twentieth century.

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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.

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Dead Letters Sent

Queer Literary Transmission

Kevin Ohi

Literary texts that address tradition and the transmission of knowledge often seem concerned less with preservation than with loss, recurrently describing scenarios of what author Kevin Ohi terms “thwarted transmission.” Such scenes, however, do not so much concede the impossibility of survival as look into what constitutes literary knowledge and whether it can properly be said to be an object to be transmitted, preserved, or lost.

Beginning with general questions of transmission—the conveying of knowledge in pedagogy, the transmission and material preservation of texts and forms of knowledge, and even the impalpable communication between text and reader—Dead Letters Sent examines two senses of “queer transmission.” First, it studies the transmission of a minority sexual culture, of queer ways of life and the specialized knowledges they foster. Second, it examines the queer potential of literary and cultural transmission, the queerness that is sheltered within tradition itself. By exploring how these two senses are intertwined, it builds a persuasive argument for the relevance of queer criticism to literary study. Its detailed attention to works by Plato, Shakespeare, Swinburne, Pater, Wilde, James, and Faulkner seeks to formulate a practice of reading adequate to the queerness Ohi’s book uncovers within the literary tradition.

Ohi identifies a radical new future for both queer theory and close reading: the possibility that each might exceed itself in merging with the other, creating a queer theory of literary tradition immanent in an immersed practice of reading.

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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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Derek Jarman’s Angelic Conversations

Jim Ellis

Best known as an iconoclastic, wildly inventive filmmaker, Derek Jarman was also an accomplished author, painter, and landscape artist. In Derek Jarman's Angelic Conversations, Jim Ellis considers Jarman's wide-ranging oeuvre to present a broad perspective on the career and life of one of the most provocative, engaged, and important artists of the twentieth century.

Derek Jarman's Angelic Conversations analyzes Jarman's work-including his famous films Caravaggio, Jubilee, Edward II, Blue, and Sebastiane-in relation to his critiques of the government and his activism in the gay community, from the liberationist movement to the AIDS epidemic. While others have frequently focused on Jarman's biography, Ellis looks at how his politics and aesthetics are intertwined to comprehend his most radical aspects, particularly in films such as War Requiem and The Last of England.

Here Jarman is revealed as an artist who keenly understood the role of history and mythology in creating a personal and national identity: as an activist, he sought to challenge old histories while producing new ones to carve out a space for alternative communities in Britain late in the twentieth century.

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The Disappearing L

Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture

Bonnie J. Morris

Investigates the rise and fall of US American lesbian cultural institutions since the 1970s.

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Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK

Constructing a queer haven

Thibaut Raboin

This book looks at the specificities of the exclusion of LGBT refugees, to show how the cultural politics of queer migration help us rethink emancipatory sexual politics.

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The Domain-Matrix

Performing Lesbian at the End of Print Culture

Sue-Ellen Case

"This book demonstrates Case’s continued dominance of the field of lesbian performance studies.... Case’s dense, rich, and complex work very likely will be a central text for anyone interested in debating the changing theoretical landscape for performance studies and queer theory. All readers interested in what the future might hold for scholarship in the humanities should study Case’s thought-provoking work, which is an essential addition to any college or university’s collection." —Choice

"... this is a book that is enormously provocative, that will make you think and feel connected with the latest speculation on the implications of the electronic age we inhabit." —Lesbian Review of Books

"... definitely required reading for any future-thinking lesbian." —Lambda Book Report

The Domain-Matrix is about the passage from print culture to electronic screen culture and how this passage affects the reader or computer user. Sections are organized to emulate, in a printed book, the reader’s experience of computer windows. Case traces the portrait of virtual identities within queer and lesbian critical practice and virtual technologies.

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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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