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This chapter is the article that forms the philosophical heart of the book, with subsequent chapters elaborating on the motif in specific contexts. I've interspersed some commentary within the summary, and will include more general retrospective commentary in the last post for this publication.

Chapter 2 is a personal reminiscence that has no relevant content for the Project. I was tempted to combine it with Chapter 3, like I sometimes do for chapters with minimal commentary, but since it's the only such chapter in this book, I flipped a coin and gave it its own entry.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 235 – A Farce to Suit the New Girl by Rebecca Fraimow - transcript

(Originally aired 2022/07/30 - listen here)

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 234 – Our F/Favorite Tropes Part 1: Only One Bed - transcript

(Originally aired 2022/07/16 - listen here)

“…and there was only one bed!”

There's a phenomenon where the majority of books you read keep citing a specific earlier work, and you build it up in your mind to being something larger and more significant than it turns out to be. Of course, academic citations aren't necessarily a mark of significance; sometimes they're an acknowledgment of origins, of idea-lineages, of honoring those who first mapped out the territory. But it can still, sometimes, feel like a let-down when you finally get around to reading some highly-cited work and it doesn't live up to the image you've created in your head.

All in all, this was the least satisfying of the four chapters of this book that I summarized in detail, from the viewpoint of providing a survey of the field. While the other three chapters were written by scholars with extensive work in the topic they took up, Thomas (based on some cursory googling) seems to be more a specialist in Victorian English culture, with queer history being only one of a number of specialized topics she has written on within that field.

As with the previous post, this chapter is written by a prolific and deeply knowledgeable scholar on the era in question. One of the benefits of a survey like the Cambridge Companion that is both a high-level overview and focuses specifically on lesbian history is that it can be easier to see some of the large-scale patterns. If the 17th century was an era when female homoeroticism was becoming more visible in general, the 18th century was an era when knowledge about female homoeroticism was becoming more organized into motifs, tropes, and categories.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 233 - On the Shelf for July 2022 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2022/07/02 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for July 2022.

Lanser is one of the most significant voices in the study of lesbian themes in the Renaissance and early modern period, so it's not at all surprising that she does an excellent job at surveying the literature of the period. I'm a smidge less convinced by her framing discussion, suggesting that the significance of Queen Elizabeth I of England's extended reign as a woman, and as an unmarried woman at that, created a special context for disrupting concepts of gender and increasing discourse around female homoeroticism.

The chapters in the latter part of The Cambridge Companion to Lesbian Literature seems intended to provide something of a catalog to sources and themes in different eras. In this, the chapters succeed to varying degrees. This one does a fairly good job, first by analyzing the difficulties in defining "medieval lesbian literature," and then in looking at various genres and themes that have a "lesbian-like" resonance for the modern reader.


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