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Can you know a lesbian when you see one? What characteristics did people in early modern Spain think a lesbian would have? And what did that say about how they conceived of sexual orientation? The concluding chapter to Velasco's book covers an assortment of loosely-connected topics having to do with visual signifiers. It's interesting how old the trope of the "masculine-looking ugly lesbian" is.

In the research I read though for this project, I regularly come across references to pieces of historic literature that come tantalizingly close to being positive queer stories. A few of them have been added to my "to write" list where I want to tweak them ever so slightly to overcome the deficiencies of the past. Aragón's play Añasco el de Talavera is one of those tantalizing near-misses, with its open homoerotic desire and the "mannish" woman who has the power to order people's lives within the story.

The image of Spanish convent life in the age of colonial expansion often overlooks the social consequences of convents being the sole alternative to marriage for women of good birth and good reputation. That meant that a lot of the nuns were educated, sophisticated, and relatively lacking in religious vocation. Convent rules tried to find a middle gound between the ideals of exclusive devotion to God and the recognition that they were dealing with a lot of young women who were lonely and desperate for affection.

The blog comes around again to Catalina de Erauso, who kicked off the current thematic grouping. It's an odd trio: Catalina the cross-dressing soldier of fortune in the New World, Eleno de Cespedes the transgender doctor who began life as a slave, and Queen Christina of Sweden who became the darling of the Spanish aristocracy (at long distance) when she decided to convert from Lutheranism to Catholicism--a decision that made them willing to overlook her long-rumored romantic relationships with women. And I am now imagining a buddy movie...

This week I'm talking with Bella Books author Genevieve Fortin about her recent release Water's Edge, involving Canadian immigrants to New England in the late 19th century. Genevieve talks about how local and family history inspired her to write this story.

Listen to the podcast here at the Lesbian Talk Show site, or subscribe through your favorite podcast aggregator, such as iTunes, Podbean, or Stitcher.

I've titled the first-week-of-the-month round-up podcast "On the Shelf" as a bit of a pun. On the one hand, it's referring to what books I have "on the shelf" to be covered in the blog, or talked about with our guest author. But it was also a term in the 19th century for a woman who was still unmarried at an age when society considered her too old to be an eligible bride. And, of course, a certain number of the women who were "on the shelf" were avoiding marriage to a man very deliberately.

I'm not going to lie: I'm feeling a bit anxious about the reception of this week's podcast. The topic of how erotic desire has been handled with respect to the history of lesbians has the potential for hurtful erasure on every side. Some scholars have approached the history of sexuality from a position that erotic desire and erotic activity are how you define the presence of lesbianism.

Author Catherine Lundoff returns to the podcast to share some of her favorite lesbian historical fiction. I hope this series of segments will help people find new (or old) titles that may strike their fancy.

Listen to the podcast here at the Lesbian Talk Show site, or subscribe through your favorite podcast aggregator, such as iTunes, Podbean, or Stitcher.

Today the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast interviews author Catherine Lundoff about her historical and historically-inspired fiction featuring women-loving-women. Catherine also writes some great science fiction and fantasy and has started a new publishing house: Queen of Swords Press. Find out more about her projects in the interview!


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