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Grassroots Literacies

Lesbian and Gay Activism and the Internet in Turkey

Serkan Görkemli

Examines the grassroots activism of an Internet-mediated collegiate lesbian and gay organization in Turkey.

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A Heaven of Words

Last Journals, 1956–1984

Charm, wit, compassion, wisdom, literature, nature, sex, humor, politics, sorrow, love: these themes fill the late journal pages of enigmatic American writer Glenway Wescott. From humble beginnings on a poor Wisconsin farm, Wescott went on to study at the University of Chicago, narrowly survive the Spanish flu pandemic, and eventually emerge as an influential poet and novelist. A major figure in the American literary expatriate community in Paris during the 1920s and a prominent American novelist in the years leading up to World War II, he spent a decade living abroad before relocating permanently to New York and New Jersey with his partner, Museum of Modern Art publications director and curator Monroe Wheeler. Together they mixed with such intellectual and creative greats as Jean Cocteau, Colette, George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Somerset Maugham, Christopher Isherwood, Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, Joseph Campbell, and scores of other luminaries. During the second half of his life, Wescott wrote nonfiction essays and worked for the Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters, all the while keeping journals in which he recorded the experiences that fostered his love of life, literature, the arts, and humanity. A Heaven of Words looks back on Wescott's entire fascinating life, and reveals the riveting narrative of his last decades.

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Hellenism and Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford

by Linda Dowling

In April 1895, Oscar Wilde stood in the prisoner's dock of the Old Bailey, charged with "acts of gross indecency with another male person. These filthy practices, the prosecutor declared, posed a deadly threat to English society, "a sore which cannot fail in time to corrupt and taint it all." Wilde responded with a speech of legendary eloquence, defending love between men as a love "such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare." Electrified, the spectators in the courtroom burst into applause.

Although Wilde was ultimately imprisoned, the courtroom response to his speech signaled a revolutionary moment-the emergence into the public sphere of a kind of love that had always been proscribed in English culture. In this luminous work of intellectual history, Linda Dowling offers the first detailed account of Oxford Hellenism, the Victorian philosophical and literary movement that made possible Wilde's brief triumph and anticipated the modern possibility of homosexuality as a positive social identity.

A homosocial culture and a language of moral legitimacy for homosexuality emerged, Dowling argues, as unforeseen consequences of Oxford University reform. Through their search in Plato and Greek literature for a transcendental value that might substitute for a lost Christian theology, such liberal reformers as Benjamin Jowett unintentionally created a cultural context in which male love-the "spiritual procreancy" celebrated in Plato's Symposium-might be both experienced and justified in ideal terms. Dowling traces the institutional career of Hellenism from its roots in Oxford reform through its blossoming in an approach to Greek studies that came to operate as a code for homosexuality. Recreating the incidents, controversies, and scandals that heralded the growth of Hellenism, Dowling provides a new cultural and theoretical context within which to read writers as diverse as Wilde, Jowett, John Addington Symonds, Walter Pater, Lord Alfred Douglas, Robert Buchanan, and W. H. Mallock.

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Henry James and the Queerness of Style

Kevin Ohi

Kevin Ohi begins this energetic book with the proposition that to read Henry James—particularly the late texts—is to confront the queer potential of style and the traces it leaves on the literary life. In contrast to other recent critics, Ohi asserts that James’s queerness is to be found neither in the homoerotic thematics of the texts, however startlingly explicit, nor in the suggestions of same-sex desire in the author’s biography, however undeniable, but in his style.

For Ohi, there are many elements in the style that make James’s writing queer. But if there is a thematic marker, Ohi shows through his careful engagements with these texts, it is belatedness. The recurrent concern with belatedness, Ohi explains, should be understood not psychologically but stylistically, not as confessing the sad predicament of being out of sync with one’s life but as revealing the consequences of style’s refashioning of experience. Belatedness marks life’s encounter with style, and it describes an experience not of deprivation but of the rich potentiality of the literary work that James calls “freedom.” In Ohi’s reading, belatedness is the indicator not of sublimation or repression, nor of authorial self-sacrifice, but of the potentiality of the literary—and hence of the queerness of style.

Presenting original readings of a series of late Jamesian texts, the book also represents an exciting possibility for queer theory and literary studies in the future: a renewed attention to literary form and a new sounding—energized by literary questions of style and form—of the theoretical implications of queerness.

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Heterosexual Plots and Lesbian Narratives

Marilyn Farwell

What is lesbian literature? Must it contain overtly lesbian characters, and portray them in a positive light? Must the author be overtly (or covertly) lesbian? Does there have to be a lesbian theme and must it be politically acceptable?

Marilyn Farwell here examines the work of such writers as Adrienne Rich, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jeanette Winterson, Gloria Naylor, and Marilyn Hacker to address these questions. Dividing their writings into two genres--the romantic story and the heroic, or quest, story, Farwell addresses some of the most problematic issues at the intersection of literature, sex, gender, and postmodernism.

Illustrating how the generational conflict between the lesbian- feminists of twenty years ago and the queer theorists of today stokes the critical fires of contemporary lesbian and literary theory, Heterosexual Plots and Lesbian Narratives concludes by arguing for a broad and generous definition of lesbian writing.

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Heterosyncrasies

Female Sexuality When Normal Wasn’t

Karma Lochrie

In the early twentieth century, marriage manuals sought to link marital sex to the progress of civilization, searching for the history of what they considered to be normal sexuality. In Heterosyncrasies, Karma Lochrie looks to the foundation of modern society in the Middle Ages to undertake a profound questioning of the heterosexuality of that history. Lochrie begins this provocative rethinking of sexuality by dismantling the very idea of normal through a study of the development of statistics in the nineteenth century. She then intervenes in contemporary debates about queer versus ostensibly stable heterosexual social and sexual categories by exposing the "heterosyncratic" organization of sexuality in the Middle Ages and by clarifying the dubious contribution that the concept of normality has made to the construction of sexuality. In medieval texts from the letters of Heloise to Lollard heretical attacks on the Church, to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, medical discourse surrounding the clitoris, and finally the Amazons of medieval myth, Lochrie focuses on female sexuality in the Middle Ages in an effort to discern a less binary, more diversified understanding of it. Lochrie demonstrates how the medieval categories of natural and unnatural were distinctly different from our modern categories of normal and abnormal. In her work we see how abandoning heteronormativity as a medieval organizer of sexualities profoundly changes the way we understand all sexualities - past, present, and possibly even future. Heterosyncrasies is a milestone in the study of sexual identity politics, revealing not only how presumptions of normality obscure our understanding of the past, but also how these beliefs affect our present-day laws, society, and daily life.

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Homecoming Queers

Desire and Difference in Chicana Latina Cultural Production

Marivel T. Danielson

Homecoming Queers provides a critical discussion of the multiple strategies used by queer Latina authors and artists in the United States to challenge silence and invisibility within mainstream media, literary canons, and theater spaces. Marivel T. Danielson's analysis reveals the extensive legacy of these cultural artists, including novelists, filmmakers, students and activists, comedians, performers, and playwrights. By clearly discussing the complexities and universalities of ethnic, racial, sexual, gender, and class intersections between queer Chicana and U.S. Latinas, Danielson explores the multiple ways identity shapes and shades creative expression.

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Hoover's War on Gays

Exposing the FBI’s “Sex Deviates” Program

The first book which brings together all known, and some previously unknown, sources to reconstruct the history of the FBI’s obsessive interest in gays; including its massive Sex Deviates program and file, from the depths of the Great Depression to the Clinton administration.

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The House That Jack Built

The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer

Peter Gizzi

The House That Jack Built collects for the first time the four historic talks given by controversial poet Jack Spicer just before his early death in 1965. These lively and provocative lectures function as a gloss to Spicer's own poetry, a general discourse on poetics, and a cautionary handbook for young poets. This long-awaited document of Spicer's unorthodox poetic vision, what Robin Blaser has called "the practice of outside," is an authoritative edition of an underground classic.

Peter Gizzi's afterword elucidates some of the fundamental issues of Spicer's poetry and lectures, including the concept of poetic dictation, which Spicer renovates with vocabularies of popular culture: radio, Martians, and baseball; his use of the California landscape as a backdrop for his poems; and his visual imagination in relation to the aesthetics of west-coast funk assemblage. This book delivers a firsthand account of the contrary and turbulent poetics that define Spicer's ongoing contribution to an international avant-garde.

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