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It's been a lot of fun doing a themed set of blogs and podcasts this month focusing on Sappho. The new episode is out, talking about the transmissiong of Sappho's body of work down the centuries, with examples of translations and works inspired by her poetry. I'm looking for other topics where I can coordinate publications and podcasts. And look for some changes coming to the LHMPodcast in August, with an expanded schedule and new types of content.

This month I’m getting my fill of a particular sort of academic study that brings together parallel examinations of several related subjects (or persons) to build a layered case for the author’s conclusions. There is often a tendency to throw in a section of random leftover topics somewhere toward the end. This sounds a bit more negative than I mean it to feel -- academic writing has some rules and structures that are quite different from a more popular approach to historic topics. But it can make it hard to recommend books like this to a general reader.

Usually when I cover books of the density and length of those I'm doing this month, I break them up into multiple entries to spread out the work of reading and summarizing. But because I wanted to do this "Sappho Special," I'm doing a book a week, and it's being a big grueling (as well as making for some very long blogs). Andreadis is a very dense but readable work, though the theoretical interpretation gets a bit repetitive in later chapters. For this reason, I took more extensive notes in the first few chapters than later ones.

Special for LGBTQ Pride Month, the Lesbian Historic Motif Project is doing an all-Sappho month.

We start off with a podcast: Lebian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 10: Sappho of Lesbos - The Woman and the Legend

The blog will feature four books covering various aspects of Sappho's work, reception, and symbolism. (Well, ok, they were the four books I had with "Sappho" in the title that I hadn't covered yet.)

 

There have been a number of “complete” catalogs of Sappho’s work published over the centuries. Issues of access and datedness aside, this one is likely to be of the greatest interest to readers of this project, not only for the care with which Snyder leads the reader through the meaning of the Greek texts, but due to her overt openness to interpreting the poems within a homoerotic context.

I struggled a great deal with this text and especially with summarizing it. It wasn’t so much that I found flaws with some of the premises (particularly in regards to the author’s claim of special French “ownershp” of the post-medieval revival of interest in Sappho) but the prose is extremely dense, repetitive, and impossible to summarize. I confess that this book became a Did Not FInish after slogging through a little more than a third of it.

For the month of May I'm going to be covering a number of books that fall in the catalog/encyclopedia genre. Due to their broad coverage, I won't be adding content tags.

I recall encountering this book in the college library when I was an undergraduate in the late ‘70s. That might have been the 1975 second edition or may well have been the original first edition. It was one of a handful of books I encountered then and during the following decade that gave me hope that there were historical treasures to be found if I only looked hard enough.

This book comes out of an era when “claiming historic figures for the team” was a major preoccupation of gay and lesbian historical studies. (And at that time it was very often narrowly “gay and lesbian” without additional letters of the alphabet.)

OK, so I have to confess that the main reason I own a copy of this book was that I went to a book release party for it at a local bookstore and felt  embarrassed not to buy a copy. So my copy is personally inscribed!

Of the four encyclopedia-type texts I’m covering this month, this is the one I consider most useful and most academically sound. “Usefulness” is a matter of  what you’re looking for, of course. Someone who is browsing for random story inspiration will have a broader definition. But given that the core purpose of this project is to identify accurate and analytic information about desire between women in history, I consider it essential to make recommendations on that basis.

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