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

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My Germany Cover

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My Germany

A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped

Lev Raphael

Haunted by his parents’ horrific suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, Lev Raphael grew up loathing everything German. Those feelings shaped his Jewish identity, his life, and his career. While researching his mother’s war years after her death, he discovers a distant relative living in the very city where she had worked in a slave labor camp, found freedom, and met his father. Soon after, Raphael is launched on book tours in Germany and, in the process, redefines himself as someone unafraid to face the past and let it go.

 

Bookmarks, “Top Ten Nonfiction Titles of 2009”

Napoleonic Friendship: Military Fraternity, Intimacy, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century France Cover

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Napoleonic Friendship: Military Fraternity, Intimacy, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century France

Military Fraternity, Intimacy, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century France

Brian Joseph Martin

Following the French Revolution, radical military reforms created conditions for new physical and emotional intimacy between soldiers, establishing a model of fraternal affection that would persist from the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars through the Franco-Prussian War and World War I.

Based on extensive research in French and American archives, and enriched by his reading of Napoleonic military memoirs and French military fiction from Hugo and Balzac to Zola and Proust, Brian Joseph Martin's view encompasses a broad range of emotional and erotic relationships in French armies from 1789 to 1916. He argues that the French Revolution's emphasis on military fraternity evolved into an unprecedented sense of camaraderie among soldiers in the armies of Napoleon. For many soldiers, the hardships of combat led to intimate friendships. For some, the homosociality of military life inspired mutual affection, lifelong commitment, and homoerotic desire.

New Choices, New Families Cover

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New Choices, New Families

How Lesbians Decide about Motherhood

Nancy J. Mezey

How do lesbians decide to become mothers or remain childfree? Why do new families form at particular historical moments? These questions are at the heart of Nancy J. Mezey’s New Choices, New Families. Researchers, politicians, and society at large continue to debate the changing American family, especially nontraditional families that emerge from divorce, remarriage, grandparents-as-parents, and adoption. This ongoing discussion also engages the controversy surrounding the parental rights of same-sex couples and their families. New Choices, New Families enters into this conversation. Mezey asks why lesbians are forming families at this particular historical moment and wonders how race, class, sexual identity, and family history factor into the decision-making process. Drawing heavily from personal interviews, Mezey’s groundbreaking analysis gives voice to groups long underrepresented in similar studies—black, Latina, working class, and childfree lesbians. Some chapters examine how childhood experiences contribute to the desire to become a mother, while others consider the influence of women’s partners and careers. New Choices, New Families provides thoughtful insights into questions about sexual identity, social and cultural expectations, and what and who constitute a family.

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Not in This Family

Gays and the Meaning of Kinship in Postwar North America

Heather Murray

Many Americans hold fast to the notion that gay men and women, more often than not, have been ostracized from disapproving families. Not in This Family challenges this myth and shows how kinship ties have been an animating force in gay culture, politics, and consciousness throughout the latter half of the twentieth century.

Historian Heather Murray gives voice to gays and their parents through an extensive use of introspective writings, particularly personal correspondence and diaries, as well as through published memoirs, fiction, poetry, song lyrics, movies, and visual and print media. Starting in the late 1940s and 1950s, Not in This Family covers the entire postwar period, including the gay liberation and lesbian feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the establishment of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. Ending her story with an examination of contemporary coming-out rituals, Murray shows how the personal that was once private became political and, finally, public.

In exploring the intimate, reciprocal relationship of gay children and their parents, Not in This Family also chronicles larger cultural shifts in privacy, discretion and public revelation, and the very purpose of family relations. Murray shows that private bedrooms and consumer culture, social movements and psychological fashions, all had a part to play in transforming the modern family.

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Officially Gay: The Political Construction Of Sexuality

In 1993, simply the idea that lesbians and gays should be able to serve openly in the military created a firestorm of protest from right-wing groups and powerful social conservatives that threatened to derail the entire agenda of a newly elected President. Nine short years later, in the wake of September 11, 2001, the Pentagon's suspension of discharge of gay and lesbians went largely overlooked and unremarked by political pundits, news organizations, military experts, religious leaders and gay activists. How can this collective cultural silence be explained? Officially Gay follows the military's century-long attempt to identify and exclude gays and lesbians. It traces how the military historically constructed definitions of homosexual identity relying upon religious, medical, and psychological discourses that defined homosexuals as evil, degenerate, and unstable, making their risk to national security obvious, and mandating their exclusion from the Armed Services. Officially Gay argues that this process made possible greater regulation and scrutiny of gays and lesbians both in and out of the military while simultaneously helping to create a gay and lesbian political movement and helped shape the direction that movement would take.

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One Marriage Under God

The Campaign to Promote Marriage in America

The meaning and significance of the institution of marriage has engendered angry and boisterous battles across the United States. While the efforts of lesbians and gay men to make marriage accessible to same-sex couples have seen increasing success, these initiatives have sparked a backlash as campaigns are waged to “protect” heterosexual marriage in America. Less in the public eye is government legislation that embraces the idea of marriage promotion as a necessary societal good. 
 
In this timely and extensive study of marriage politics, Melanie Heath uncovers broad cultural anxieties that fuel on-the-ground practices to reinforce a boundary of heterosexual marriage, questioning why marriage has become an issue of pervasive national preoccupation and anxiety, and explores the impact of policies that seek to reinstitutionalize heterosexual marriage in American society. From marriage workshops for the general public to relationship classes for welfare recipients to marriage education in high school classrooms, One Marriage Under God documents in meticulous detail the inner workings of ideologies of gender and heterosexuality in the practice of marriage promotion to fortify a concept of “one marriage,” an Anglo-American ideal of Christian, heterosexual monogamy. 

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Opacity and the Closet

Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol

Nicholas de Villiers

Opacity and the Closet interrogates the viability of the metaphor of “the closet” when applied to three important queer figures in postwar American and French culture: the philosopher Michel Foucault, the literary critic Roland Barthes, and the pop artist Andy Warhol. Nicholas de Villiers proposes a new approach to these cultural icons that accounts for the queerness of their works and public personas.

Rather than reading their self-presentations as “closeted,” de Villiers suggests that they invent and deploy productive strategies of “opacity” that resist the closet and the confessional discourse associated with it. Deconstructing binaries linked with the closet that have continued to influence both gay and straight receptions of these intellectual and pop celebrities, de Villiers illuminates the philosophical implications of this displacement for queer theory and introduces new ways to think about the space they make for queerness.

Using the works of Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol to engage each other while exploring their shared historical context, de Villiers also shows their queer appropriations of the interview, the autobiography, the diary, and the documentary—forms typically linked to truth telling and authenticity.

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Oscar Wilde in America

The Interviews

This comprehensive and authoritative collection of Oscar Wilde's American interviews affords readers a fresh look at the making of a literary legend. Better known in 1882 as a cultural icon than a serious writer (at twenty-six years old, he had by then published just one volume of poems), Wilde was brought to North America for a major lecture tour on Aestheticism and the decorative arts that was organized to publicize a touring opera, Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, which lampooned him and satirized the Aesthetic "movement" he had been imported to represent._x000B__x000B_In this year-long series of broadly distributed and eagerly read newspaper interviews, Wilde excelled as a master of self-promotion. With characteristic aplomb, he adopted the role as the ambassador of Aestheticism, and reporters noted that he was dressed for the part. He wooed and flattered his hosts everywhere, and he tried out a number of phrases, ideas, and strategies that ultimately made him famous as a novelist and playwright. This exceptional volume cites all ninety-one of Wilde's interviews and contains transcripts of forty-eight of them, and it also includes his lecture on his travels in America.

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The Other Mother

A Lesbian's Fight for Her Daughter

Nancy Abrams

On a spring day in 1993, Nancy Abrams helped her daughter dress for day care, packed her lunch, and said good-bye. Next she drove to court, where she learned that in the eyes of the law she was nothing more than “a biological stranger” to the child she helped bring into the world and raise. That was the last time she would see her daughter or hear her voice for five years.
    The Other Mother begins as Abrams and her female lover decide to start a family together. With giddy anticipation, they search for a sperm donor, shop for baby clothes and crib, and attend childbirth classes. But despite their high hopes, the relationship begins to fall apart, and they separate when their daughter is a toddler. Problems between the two intensify until, shortly before her daughter’s fifth birthday, Abrams loses custody.
    In unprecedented depth, Abrams’s compelling narrative examines the social, legal, and political implications of gay and lesbian parenting. Her haunting memoir asks the question, “What makes a mother?” It is a question that biological parents, co-parents, adoptive parents, step-parents, and divorced parents must each answer in their own way. In telling one woman’s story, The Other Mother makes a solid case for legal protections, including marriage, for lesbian and gay families.

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Our Deep Gossip

Conversations with Gay Writers on Poetry and Desire

Christopher Hennessy; Foreword by Christopher Bram

From Walt Whitman forward, a century and a half of radical experimentation and bold speech by gay and lesbian poets has deeply influenced the American poetic voice. In Our Deep Gossip, Christopher Hennessy interviews eight gay men who are celebrated American poets and writers: Edward Field, John Ashbery, Richard Howard, Aaron Shurin, Dennis Cooper, Cyrus Cassells, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Kazim Ali. The interviews showcase the complex ways art and life intertwine, as the poets speak about their early lives, the friends and communities that shaped their work, the histories of gay writers before them, how sex and desire connect with artistic production, what coming out means to a writer, and much more.

            While the conversations here cover almost every conceivable topic of interest to readers of poetry and poets themselves, the book is an especially important, poignant, far-reaching, and enduring document of what it means to be a gay artist in twentieth- and early twenty-first-century America.

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