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

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In a Queer Time and Place Cover

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In a Queer Time and Place

Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives

Judith Halberstam

In her first book since the critically acclaimed Female Masculinity, Judith Halberstam examines the significance of the transgender body in a provocative collection of essays on queer time and space. She presents a series of case studies focused on the meanings of masculinity in its dominant and alternative forms’especially female and trans-masculinities as they exist within subcultures, and are appropriated within mainstream culture.

In a Queer Time and Place opens with a probing analysis of the life and death of Brandon Teena, a young transgender man who was brutally murdered in small-town Nebraska. After looking at mainstream representations of the transgender body as exhibited in the media frenzy surrounding this highly visible case and the Oscar-winning film based on Brandon's story, Boys Don’t Cry, Halberstam turns her attention to the cultural and artistic production of queers themselves. She examines the “transgender gaze,” as rendered in small art-house films like By Hook or By Crook, as well as figurations of ambiguous embodiment in the art of Del LaGrace Volcano, Jenny Saville, Eva Hesse, Shirin Neshat, and others. She then exposes the influence of lesbian drag king cultures upon hetero-male comic films, such as Austin Powers and The Full Monty, and, finally, points to dyke subcultures as one site for the development of queer counterpublics and queer temporalities.

Considering the sudden visibility of the transgender body in the early twenty-first century against the backdrop of changing conceptions of space and time, In a Queer Time and Place is the first full-length study of transgender representations in art, fiction, film, video, and music. This pioneering book offers both a jumping off point for future analysis of transgenderism and an important new way to understand cultural constructions of time and place.

In a Queer Voice Cover

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In a Queer Voice

Journeys of Resilience from Adolescence to Adulthood

Adolescence is a difficult time, but it can be particularly stressful for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identifying youth. In order to avoid harassment and rejection, many LGBTQ teens hide their identities from their families, peers, and even themselves.
Educator Michael Sadowski deftly brings the voices of LGBTQ youth out into the open in his poignant and important book, In a Queer Voice. Drawing on two waves of interviews conducted six years apart, Sadowski chronicles how queer youth, who were often “silenced” in school and elsewhere, now can approach adulthood with a strong, queer voice.
In a Queer Voice continues the critical conversation about LGBTQ youth issues—from bullying and suicide to other risks involving drug and alcohol abuse—by focusing on the factors that help young people develop positive, self-affirming identities. Using the participants’ heartfelt, impassioned voices, we hear what schools, families, and communities can do to help LGBTQ youth become resilient, confident adults.

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In and Out of Hollywood

A Biographer’s Memoir

As a best-selling biographer of numerous Hollywood greats—Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes, and Cary Grant among them—Charles Higham has been privy to the public and private joys, tragedies, scandals, and desires of many of the darlings of Hollywood’s red carpet. In and Out of Hollywood is Higham’s own life story, replete with a vibrant cast that includes stars from Marlene Dietrich to Clint Eastwood to Leonardo DiCaprio.
    Born into a life of privilege in 1930s England, Higham endured a difficult childhood. To escape a tortured family situation, Higham married early despite his awakening homosexuality and fled to Australia with his wife to begin a new life as a poet, journalist, and editor. By the 1960s he had settled in Hollywood. It was here that he struck gold by finding and writing about the reels of Orson Welles’s legendary unfinished Latin American epic film It’s All True, long thought lost in a Paramount vault. This momentous find rocketed Higham to the A-list. He soon became a New York Times feature writer and sought-after biographer lauded for his pioneering style.
    In and Out of Hollywood contains Higham’s personal reflections on the stars he has known over the past forty years. From his insider perch he reveals Hollywood’s inner life: how Bette Davis influenced the death of her second husband; how Walt Disney’s dark vision devolved into bright animated features he astonishingly despised; how leading actors clandestinely participated in gay activities. Higham’s memoir also charts his work as a political commentator, historian, poet, and playwright; describes the dangers and excitements of gay life before AIDS; and recounts his eventual discovery of a lasting relationship. In and Out of Hollywood is a lively tour through several decades of changing times and personalities behind the scenes of the American film world.

In My Father's Arms Cover

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In My Father's Arms

A True Story of Incest

Walter A. de Milly III

The TV-perfect family of Walter de Milly III was like many others in the American South of the 1950s—seemingly close-knit, solidly respectable, and active in the community.
    Tragically, Walter’s deeply troubled father would launch his family on a perilous journey into darkness. To the outside world, this man is a prominent businessman, a dignified Presbyterian, and a faithful husband; to Walter, he is an overwhelming, handsome monster. Whenever the two are together, young Walter becomes a sexual plaything for his father; father and son outings are turned into soul-obliterating nightmares.
    Walter eventually becomes a successful businessman only to be stricken by another catastrophe: his father, at the age of seventy, is caught molesting a young boy. Walter is asked to confront his father. Walter convenes his family, and in a private conference with a psychiatrist, the father agrees to be surgically castrated.
    De Milly’s portraits of his relationships with his father and mother, and the confrontation that leads to his father’s bizarre and irreversible voluntary “cure,” are certain to be remembered long after the reader has set aside this powerful contribution to the literature of incest survival.


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Isherwood on Writing

The Lectures in California

Christopher Isherwood

In the 1960s, Christopher Isherwood gave an unprecedented series of lectures at California universities on the theme “A Writer and His World.” During this time Isherwood, who would liberate the memoir and become the founding father of modern gay writing, spoke openly for the first time about his craft—on writing for film, theater, and novels—and on spirituality. Isherwood on Writing brings these public addresses together to reveal a distinctly—and surprisingly—American Isherwood.


Given at a critical time in Isherwood’s career, these lectures mark the era when he turned from fiction to memoir. In free-flowing, wide-ranging discussions, he reflects on such topics as why writers write, what makes a novel great, and what influenced his own work. Isherwood talks about his working relationship with W. H. Auden; his literary friendships with E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Stephen Spender, Aldous Huxley, and Somerset Maugham; and his work in the film industry in London and Hollywood. He also explores uncharted territory in candid comments on his own work, something not contained in his diaries.


Isherwood on Writing uncovers an important and often-misunderstood time in Isherwood’s life in America. The lectures present, in James J. Berg’s words, “an example of a man, comfortable in his own sexuality and self, trying to talk about himself and his own life in a society that is not yet ready to hear the whole story.”


A major figure in twentieth-century fiction and the gay rights movement, Christopher Isherwood (1904–1986) is the author of many books, including A Single Man and Down There on a Visit, available from Minnesota.


James J. Berg is dean of liberal arts and sciences at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota. He is editor, with Chris Freeman, of The Isherwood Century: Essays on the Life and Work of Christopher Isherwood (winner of the Lambda Award) and Conversations with Christopher Isherwood.


Claude Summers is professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan, Dearborn and author of many works, including Gay Fictions: Wilde to Stonewall.

Kindred Specters Cover

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Kindred Specters

Death, Mourning, and American Affinity

Christopher Peterson

The refusal to recognize kinship relations among slaves, interracial couples, and same-sex partners is steeped in historical and cultural taboos. In Kindred Specters, Christopher Peterson explores the ways in which non-normative relationships bear the stigma of death that American culture vehemently denies.


Probing Derrida’s notion of spectrality as well as Orlando Patterson’s concept of “social death,” Peterson examines how death, mourning, and violence condition all kinship relations. Through Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, Peterson lays bare concepts of self-possession and dispossession, freedom and slavery. He reads Toni Morrison’s Beloved against theoretical and historical accounts of ethics, kinship, and violence in order to ask what it means to claim one’s kin as property. Using William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! he considers the political and ethical implications of comparing bans on miscegenation and gay marriage.


Tracing the connections between kinship and mourning in American literature and culture, Peterson demonstrates how racial, sexual, and gender minorities often resist their social death by adopting patterns of affinity that are strikingly similar to those that govern normative relationships. He concludes that socially dead “others” can be reanimated only if we avow the mortality and mourning that lie at the root of all kinship relations.


Christopher Peterson is visiting assistant professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College.

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The L Word

Margaret T. McFadden

In January 2004, Showtime debuted The L Word, the first prime-time commercial drama to center around lesbian characters. Over the course of six seasons, the show depicted the lives and loves of an evolving circle of friends in West Hollywood, California, and was widely read as evidence of changing social attitudes toward gay people. Building on immediate critical attention, the show reigned as Showtime's most popular for its first three seasons and earned a large and enthusiastic audience. In The L Word, author Margaret T. McFadden argues that the show is important for its subject matter, its extended and deeply literate commentary on the history of representation of lesbians in popular media, and the formal innovations it deployed to rewrite that history. McFadden shows that the program’s creators, led by executive producer Ilene Chaiken, were well aware of the assumptions and expectations that viewers would bring to it after a history of stereotypical depictions of lesbians on television. They sought to satisfy a diverse group of viewers who wanted honest and appealing portrayals of their lives while still attracting a large enough mainstream audience to make The L Word commercially viable. In five chapters, McFadden explores how the show tackled these problems of representation by using reflexivity as a strategy to make meaning, undertaking a complicitous critique of Hollywood, skillfully using a soap-drama format to draw in its audience, and ultimately creating its own complex representation of a lesbian community. While deconstructing the history of misrepresentation of lesbians, The L Word’s new modes of storytelling and new perspectives made many aspects of lesbian experience, history, and culture visible to a large audience. Fans of the show as well as readers interested in cultural studies and gay and lesbian pop cultural history will enjoy this astute volume.

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Land of 10,000 Loves

A History of Queer Minnesota

Stewart Van Cleve

For too long, LGBTQ communities—including Minnesota’s—have been maligned, misrepresented, and often outright ignored. Myths regarding the queer experience have grown and become embedded in local and national consciousness. The absence of queer stories over time in local historical and popular writing only served to further this ignorance, but great strides have been made in recent decades to celebrate Minnesota’s vibrant queer history. Add to this rising chorus an enchanting new voice: Land of 10,000 Loves, Stewart Van Cleve’s wide-ranging and unprecedented illustrated history of queer life in Minnesota.

Drawing from the renowned Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota—a vast collection of books, photographs, films, and other historical artifacts that Van Cleve calls “one of the most comprehensive accounts of international queer history in the world”—Land of 10,000 Loves blends oral history, archival narrative, newspaper accounts, and fascinating illustrations to paint a remarkable picture of Minnesota’s queer history. More than 120 concise historical essays lead readers from the earliest evidences of queer life in Minnesota before the Second World War—for example, Oscar Wilde’s visit to Minnesota and “rumors” at the Alexander Ramsey house—to riverfront vice districts, protest and parade sites, bars, 1970s collectives, institutions, public spaces, and private homes. More than 130 illustrations illuminate these histories with images of pride guides, archival photographs, and advertisements from local queer bars among other extraordinary pieces of ephemera and artifacts. Many of the stories and images are well known, while others have been all but forgotten, until now.

Building on foundational works of regional queer history such as The Evening Crowd at Kirmser’s and Queer Twin Cities, the historical vignettes of Land of 10,000 Loves show us that Minnesota—from its biggest cities to its smallest towns—has been, as Van Cleve notes, “queer, to a certain extent, since the very beginning.” Land of 10,000 Loves honors this rich and diverse legacy and is a compelling testament to the sacrifices, scandals, and victories that have affected and continue to affect the lives of queer Minnesotans.

The Last Deployment Cover

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The Last Deployment

How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq

Bronson Lemer

In 2003, after serving five and a half years as a carpenter in a North Dakota National Guard engineer unit, Bronson Lemer was ready to leave the military behind. But six months short of completing his commitment to the army, Lemer was deployed on a yearlong tour of duty to Iraq. Leaving college life behind in the Midwest, he yearns for a lost love and quietly dreams of a future as an openly gay man outside the military. He discovers that his father’s lifelong example of silent strength has taught him much about being a man, and these lessons help him survive in a war zone and to conceal his sexuality, as he is required to do by the U.S. military.

            The Last Deployment is a moving, provocative chronicle of one soldier’s struggle to reconcile military brotherhood with self-acceptance. Lemer captures the absurd nuances of a soldier’s daily life: growing a mustache to disguise his fear, wearing pantyhose to battle sand fleas, and exchanging barbs with Iraqis while driving through Baghdad. But most strikingly, he describes the poignant reality faced by gay servicemen and servicewomen, who must mask their identities while serving a country that disowns them. Often funny, sometimes anguished, The Last Deployment paints a deeply personal portrait of war in the twenty-first century.
A main selection of the InsightOut Book Club
Featured Title of Book of the Month Club 2

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