Skip to content Skip to navigation

Full citation: 

McCallum, E.L. & Mikko Tuhkanen, eds. 2014. The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature Cambridge University Press, New York. ISBN 978-1-107-03521-8

Publication summary: 

A collection of articles meant as a critical reference work on literature across time and space that might be considered “gay and lesbian literature.” Only articles with lesbian-relevant content will be blogged in detail.

Contents summary: 

The introduction discusses the definition of “gay and lesbian literature” and the problem of organizing a volume like this, in the context of a series that primarily focuses on nation, era, or genre. It discusses the focus on expressions of same sex desire, while at the same time problematizing the definition of “same-sex”. There are problems with using terms like homosexuality, much less gay and lesbian, with respect to cultures outside the relatively modern Western context in which those terms developed. As a result, the chapters in the book are sometimes in conversation with existing debates about the nature of gay historiography. The discussions do not focus solely on authors that might today be identified as gay or lesbian, but also on works that suggest same-sex eroticism, regardless of the identity of the author. The discussions recognize the distinctness that may exist between lesbian and gay literary history, and individual chapters may focus on one or the other, or treat them in separate sections of the same article. The authors of the individual chapters take a variety of approaches to terminologies, whether to use “gay” and “lesbian” in an ahistoric overarching sense, or to focus on culturally specific terms, or to avoid labels entirely. The book definitely does not work on the assumption that there is a single tradition of gay and lesbian literature. Although the chapters are grouped in sections identified by various historical eras, this is not meant to suggest a strict chronology regarding the content, but rather may indicate eras in the development of gay and lesbian literature within different cultures. Chapters vary enormously with regard to specificity and focus.

Contents summary: 

This chapter begins with a discussion of what is known about Sappho, her poetry, and her reputation among her contemporaries in ancient Greece. The tragically fragmentary nature of the written legacy of her work is traced, including the nine volume collection lost in the 9th century and the recovery of fragments of her work from papyrus sources in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

New work of Sappho is still being discovered up to the current date. However, due to this long gap in familiarity with her actual work, Sappho’s reputation throughout most of Western history has been based on secondhand accounts of her poetic reputation and myths about her personal life.

Only two nearly complete poems that were transmitted by other writers, the Ode to Aphrodite, and the poem, beginning “That man seems to me…”, formed the basis for translations, reinterpretations and pastiches in western languages beginning around the 16th century. Besides that, Sappho’s image was largely based on the fictional Sappho of Ovid’s Heroides, the one who was said to have given over the love of women for the ferryman Phaon, for whose sake she committed suicide.

This fictional tradition combined with the difficulty historic cultures had in reconciling the two faces of Sappho—the famous poet and the lover of women—resulted in a tradition of two Sappho’s: one desexualized and chaste and one promiscuous and lesbian. In the tradition of “there can be only one,” Sappho became the sole icon of female poetic excellence, erasing the existence of other female poets, which had the side effect of associating, female poetics with questionable sexuality.

By the early modern period, Sappho had split further into three images: the renowned poet, the example of transgressive sexuality, and the mythologized, suicidal abandoned woman of Ovid. The modern era has added a fourth image: that of the heroic lesbian pioneer and proto-feminist muse.

The next section of the article discusses the themes and content of Sappho’s poetry, and the traditions of translation that inspired an entire industry of versions of Sappho’s small oeuvre. Part of this tradition has always been, especially for male translators, to reconfigure the gender of the poetic voice such that Sappho is instead expressing desire for a male beloved, or to imply that the poetic voice of the poem is male, thus removing same-sex desire from the equation. This section includes a fairly extensive catalog across the centuries of poets who have translated or reworked Sappho’s most complete fragments. Only in the 20th century has Sappho’s legacy largely been picked up by female authors, retaining the same-sex context of the content.

The next section traces the historic reflections of Sappho’s image as a poet, as well as her transgressive sexuality, which was largely viewed negatively before recent times. Then we have a section tracing the development and legacy of the Phaon myth, and how it affected the image of Sappho, especially in the early modern period. Finally, the article closes with a section entitled “Sappho as Modern Lesbian Heroine,” which looks at the reclamation of Sappho as a positive figure, while also as an image of female homoeroticism. This is the era in which the use of “lesbian” and “sapphist” to indicate female same-sex eroticism became widespread.

Contents summary: 

This chapter begins with the problem of using concepts or terms, like “gay” or “homosexual” to describe ancient Greek practices and ideologies. The Greek system was organized around sexual roles, not genders. There is uncertainty regarding just how same-sex eroticism functions in Plato’s writings. Eros did not serve only a literal function, but stood in for the pursuit of truth in the abstract. But the Dialogues also served as instruction for young, aristocratic men in the proper way to act within the Greek sexual system. The focus of this chapter is entirely on relations between men.

Contents summary: 

The classical corpus of “pastoral lament” is small (two Greek, two Latin) and the genre doesn’t really come into being until the later 15th century, at which point the genre has shifted from its classical origins. This “lament for a lost companion” in its 15th century form primarily mourns female figures, and early works lack a clear relationship of the poetic voice and its subject. The poems are not clearly personal reactions. As the article moves on to the later “pastoral lament” genre, it focuses on the use of the medium to express male homoerotics, and thus moves out of scope for this blog.

Contents summary: 

This chapter is entirely male in focus. It includes both positive and negative depictions of male homoerotic relationships, and the social function of such commentary.

Contents summary: 

Reading pre-modern literature in terms of gender and sexuality requires abandoning, modern sexual categories, even when continuities can be identified. The chapter begins with a review of major historians that shaped the study of medieval (homo)sexuality. It discusses the complicated structure of medieval, thinking around gender and sexuality. Discussion of specifics, primarily focuses on male homoerotic relations with brief nods to female relations. There is discussion of same-sex friendship in religious communities, such as beguines and convents, including poetry, between nuns, expressing erotic desire, and mention of the legends of cross-dressing saints. There is also a brief survey of secular literature, such as Le Livre de Manieres, Iphis and Ianthe, Yde and Olive, and the Romance of Silence.

Contents summary: 

As indicated in the chapter title, this section solely concerns relations between men.

Contents summary: 

The chapter opens by noting the severe gender imbalance in both sources and attention in the Chinese history of homosexuality. The author cites male-centered and phallocentric attitudes toward sex that led to the invisibility of female homosexual relations. The chapter covers 2000 years of history and so is necessarily uneven. The primary focus is on male homoeroticism in the late Imperial era.

Contents summary: 

This chapter concerns Early Modern Ottoman, poetry, primarily about love, and primarily about love between men. This is not solely love of adolescent boys, but a wide array of male beloveds. Changes in cultural influences, especially westernization in the 19th century, reframed this dynamic as perverse. The focus of the article is Istanbul and relations between men, but one section of the article looks at female poets, and female same-sex topics.

The article surveys of the themes and genres of same-sex love poetry, including catalogs of beauty, lyric poetry, treatises on the intersection of medicine and eroticism, and humorous disputes on the superiority of one type of love object over another. One dynamic in the 19th century reframing of Ottoman love poetry was the western stereotype of Ottoman men as sodomites. (There was also a fascination in Western culture with the idea of lesbianism in the harem.) These perceptions affected western studies of Ottoman literature, including the imposition of heteronormative readings onto overtly homosexual poems, i.e., seeing them as abstract and metaphorical. Another approach was to attribute homoerotic culture to the consequences of a gender-segregated society. All these approaches get in the way of studying Ottoman literature on its own terms.

[Note: although the generic beloved in these discussions is often described as a “boy”, the texts often focus on a beloved who is just beginning to grow a beard or mustache, and some clearly indicate a mature man. This doesn’t discount pottential age and power imbalances, and the fact that love objects were often enslaved people, and so had questionable rights over their own bodies.]

Ottoman literary scholarship has rarely touched on female same-sex relations, but early travelogues regularly referred to the topic, often attributing the practice to gender segregation. Some hints on the topic can’t be found in medical or debate literature, though from the point of view of men writing for men.

The article includes several quotes from a 16th century text describing women who use masculine presentation and dildos in their sexual relations with women, but generally ignore the possibility of non-penetrative sex between women.

From the 16th century writings of Deli Birader Gazali: “In big cities, there are famous dildo women. They put on manly clothes, they ride cavalry horses, and they also ride kochis [covered wagons] for fun. Rich and noble women invite them to their houses and offer them nice shirts and clothing. These women tie dildos on their waist and grease them with almond oil, and then start the job, dildoing the cunt.”

There is a brief review of female poets, some of whose work hints at addressing a female beloved, though the language is typically ambiguous.

The article concludes with a discussion of how, in the 19th century, with increasing Western influence, as well as anti-Sufi movements, homoerotic literature became less prevalent. The article ends with something of a call to revive older concepts and vocabulary as part of modern sexuality discourse to avoid the ways in which stigmatizing concepts have shaped modern Turkish sexuality vocabulary.

Contents summary: 

This article starts out with the question, “what is literary history?” It points out that, however approached, literary history, has traditionally, avoided considerations of gender and sexuality, while focusing either on literary personalities and influences, or literary context. But this article isn’t so much concerned with literary history itself, but with the history of literary history, opening with a consideration of how Sir Philip Sydney’s Defence of Poetry and George Puttenham’s Arte of English Poesie approach the subject, but how questions of gender and sexuality are implicitly embedded in those works.

[Note: I can’t help but notice that, in this collection generally, if the article is not overtly framed in a specific cultural context, it defaults to English history.]

Sydney muses on a concern that poetry should be a trumpet call — inspiring masculinity — and that he finds love poetry unmoving and feminizing, a pervasive theme at the time that a man’s desire for a woman feminized him.

Puttenham, on the other hand, writes — not a defense of the worth of poetry — but a manual for how to produce it, and how to use the role of poet to succeed at social politics. He, too, touches on the claim that poetry — especially the use of poetry to please and flatter a female monarch — risks emasculation.

Goldberg help these discourses and the historical study of the relations between authors, exclude women from consideration, except is an abstract image that the men are negotiating around.

[Note: Never as actual poets themselves. In fact, Goldberg manages the feat of discussing the exclusion of women from literary history without actually managing to include them.]

The article continues from this point to discuss male poets, and the homoerotic themes in their work and lives.

Contents summary: 

This chapter begins with a discussion of historic terminologies for women who loved women and the eternal problem of whether to use the label “lesbian”. Should the historian look for specific acts, or for evidence of emotional intimacy? And as a literary historian, should one distinguish between literary, artistic, or dramatic depictions, and “non-fictional” content in the fields of law, medicine, and theology?

An example of these themes colliding is in envisioning, a performance of Pérez de Montalbán’s 1626 play The Lieutenant Nun (based on the real-life story of Catalina de Erauso) portrayed on stage by popular actress Luisa de Robles. How would audiences have received and understood that performance in which a favorite actress openly flirted with women on stage, when depicting a woman known to have been attracted to women?

The historic record that contains unmistakable evidence of women desiring women is overlaid by the evidence of “attempts to suppress, destroy, or tamper” with that evidence.

The article then goes into a brief summary of documentary evidence from legal, medical, and theological texts. All these tended to approach the topic of lesbian sex from a heteronormative viewpoint, focusing on penetrative acts “like a man with a woman.” But other texts focused on romantic attachments, such as descriptions of — or concerns about — “special, friendships” in convents. Lesbians might be identified by a certain “look” (i.e., a masculine appearance), but also by how they “looked” at each other, betraying desire.

For all that discussions of lesbian desire in Spanish literature show discomfort or our framed humorously, they provide evidence that people could imagine such things, and were openly discussing the possibilities. The article concludes with cases where a person assigned female at birth framed their desire and actions in transgender terms, rather than same-sex ones, complicating the historic record.

[Note: for many more details on the content of this chapter see, Velasco’s book Lesbians in Early Modern Spain.]


Contents summary: 

From the topic, one might think this chapter would focus primarily on the male homoerotic potential of boy actors dressing as female roles on the early modern stage, but the choice of plays that Orvis chooses to examine clearly bring in female themes as well. Specifically: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Lyly’s Galatea, and Middleton and Decker’s The Roaring Girl—three plays involve cross-dressing, not simply in the staging of the play, but also within the performances themselves, with characters appearing in disguise as a different gender, creating comedic romantic interactions.

The male homoerotic potential of boy actors playing female rules cannot be overlooked. Orvis discusses a company of boy actors whose repertoire seems to have been deliberately designed to exploit homoerotic wordplay and the eroticizing of boy actors wearing women’s clothing. However not all transvestite theater focuses on this one dynamic. And there are plenty of examples where the playing of female roles by boy actors appears to have been entirely unmarked and without erotic implications. Theatrical cross-dressing came in for moral condemnation, but more in the context of a general anxiety around the blurring of boundaries regarding gendered clothing. The stage was not the only context in which playful cross-dressing was an accepted part of society.

The twins, Viola and Sebastian in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night represent an almost ungendered concept of desire, where the two are identical in every characteristic that matters, except for presumed physiological sex. They become interchangeable objects of desire within the play. Viola, disguised as the page Cesario, desires the duke Orsino. This is simultaneously a female character desiring a man, character disguised as a boy desiring a man, and underneath it all a boy actor, desiring a male role played by a male actor.

Olivia’s desire for the disguised Cesario can be read as a woman desiring a young man (the disguise), or as a woman desiring the female character underneath the disguise. The ease with which Olivia transfers her affection from Viola to Sebastian suggests that the distinction is relatively unimportant.

The play simultaneously resolves all these attractions into heterosexual marriages within the script, while underneath the surface, all relationships within the play are interacted between male bodies. What if one focuses, not on the ultimate resolution of the play, but on the interactions throughout? The reality of homoerotic desire is thus made legible. And one might point out that the play ends before any of the weddings, with the characters from one viewpoint in their original state: Orsino with the page Cesario (who is really Viola), and Olivia believing she is marrying Cesario (who is really Viola), but actually accepting Sebastian.

These dynamics are further complicated—or perhaps further simplified—in Lyly’s play Galatea, for which one of the inspirations is Ovid’s story of Iphis and Ianthe. In Ovid’s original, the cross-dressing and cross-gendered Iphis is transformed into a boy in order to marry Ianthe. However in Galatea, we have not simply one cross-dressed girl, but two—each believing the other to be a boy, and therefore a lawful object of female desire. But their desire persists, even as each begins to realize that the other person is the same as she is, a cross-dressed girl. The two women are attracted to each other specifically because of their likeness, and male-female relations are not depicted favorably within the play.

The “structural problem” that remains at the end of the play, i.e., that the loving couple are both female, is hand-waved away by the promise of a gender transition that is postponed until after the play closes. Paralleling the desire of the two main characters is Cupid’s meddling with Diana’s nymphs, shooting them with his arrows causing them to fall in love with each other, thus strengthening the theme of female homoeroticism within the play, while still marking it as a non-natural state.

The play The Roaring Girl features a character based on real-life gender transgressor Moll Cutpurse, who figures in the plot as the mechanism by which the frustrated lovers reverse parental opposition. The male suitor seeks to change his father’s mind about the girl he genuinely wants to marry by faking an interest in Moll in order to convince his father that his true beloved isn’t so bad after all. The dramatic character of Moll Cutpurse cross-dresses and indicates a certain disdain for male suitors, and at least the possibility that she has sex with women.

Moll is not the only character in the play to cross-dress. The female romantic lead does as well, though to avoid detection by her suitor’s father, thus setting up the context for the appearance of a homoerotic kiss between the two romantic leads. Moll represents a different type of transvestite character on the stage. She does not try to pass as a man, nor is she in disguise in order to spend time with the man she desires. Rather her cross-dressing is part of her rejection of standard roles, both those of gender, and in the context of marriage.

Contents summary: 

Libertine, rake, and dandy (LRD) are a sequence of persona types that emerged sequentially from the 16th to the 20th century, with overlaps, and blurring between them. They existed alongside other named character types, such as 18th-century, fops, macaronis, coxcombs, and coquettes. All are defined in relation to the “respectable” character types, such as the pious person, the bluestocking, etc. to name only a very few. The sexually-marked types of LRD don’t correspond directly to the modern concept of queerness, though some connections can be traced.

[Note: it’s also worth pointing out that LRD are all strongly male coded.]

For example, libertinism is associated with some practices that overlap with homosexuality, but is also firmly rooted in heterosexism. LRD existed both as stylized “media” images, but also as patterns of behavior that can be associated with specific men. And those specific men very often also participated in same-sex activity.

The L or D character types were, in many ways, culture-specific. The English libertine differed in some ways from the French libertine, etc. The author now acknowledges that while it would be wrong to say that the more that there were no female LRD, “Women who fit these types were derided, as whores,” rather than being, perhaps, uncomfortably celebrated as icons. Each of these roles could be split further into more specialized types. In general, these roles were strongly associated with the social elite, and lower class figures who followed similar behaviors tended to be treated with mockery. The upper class LRD represented an out of control indulgence in freethinking, sexuality, fashion, and luxury, representing the face of “modernism”.

Libertinage has its roots in the rise of pornographic literature, such as the works of Aretino, or the “dialogue of whores” genre, focusing on the use of transgressive sexual behavior, both for entertainment, and as satirical social commentary. As the social commentary function faded away, this literature settled into a purpose of sexual arousal, often using domestic settings, and the motif of sexual education, frequently of a naïve young woman, by an older experienced mentor. To the extent that these retained a satirical purpose, it was to mock the salons that upper class women held to celebrate learning, elegance, and wit. The emergence of this type of erotic literature in England included a good number of female authors.

In the later 17th century, a new form of libertinage evolved that focused more on a philosophy of the pursuit of pleasure and a rejection of religious morality. [The article here digresses into details of church history.] The Restoration court was a comfortable home for libertines, but the role came hand-in-hand with a sneering misogyny.

At this same period, the figure of the rake emerges. While the rake is similarly devoted to unfettered (and somewhat predatory) sexuality, rather than working from an inspiration of satirical or philosophical challenge to conventional morality, the rake’s persona is more about an aesthetic — a performance of nonchalant charm, wit, and irony. The rake is not rooted in heritage or profession, though he may hold to a masculine code of honor. He is usually a denizen of the city, moving among all classes of people, but evading engagement with social structures. The literary rake shuns marriage as lacking in romance.

With the passing of the Stuart dynasty in the early 18th century, the rake became less associated with courtly life, but held on as a literary trope through the end of the century, more often as an antagonist than an antihero. We see a rare example of a female rake in the character of Harriot Freke in Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda, who – like her male counterparts – seduces women. Some real-life rakes found their philosophies aligned with radical politics, but the more freewheeling attitudes toward male-male sex were having a harder time attracting even covert admiration.

The aesthetic and stylistic attributes of the rake migrated, in the Regency, to the figure of the dandy. Strangely enough, it’s also possible to trace origins for the dandy in the fop – who previously had been viewed as the antithesis of the rake.

The dandy – unlike these other personas – can also be traced to the inspiration of one particular man: Beau Brummell. Brummell establish the image of an arbiter (and curator) of sartorial style, with an intolerance of the ordinary and vulgar. The dandy was not a commentary on politics or philosophy, nor was he a challenge to order or authority. He is simply style personified.


Contents summary: 

This article connects the rhetoric of manly same-sex bonds with the development of national identity and nationalism in the 18th century and later. This image of a tight-knit national brotherhood not only trivially excludes women in the history of its development, but more consciously excludes racial and cultural “others,” relying, as it does, on an image of unified identity and feelings. I’m honestly a bit confused at how it fits into a “gay and lesbian” collection, except in the thematic connection between (white) male political solidarity and homo-affective bonds.

Contents summary: 

This article has a consideration of the place of male homosexuality — activity, legal status, cultural attitudes — during the “age of Goethe” in Germany, and how m/m themes underpin various creative movements. The brief discussion of women in this context focuses mainly on the literary trope of the actively-desiring, sexually independent woman, who practices “free love” with desirable men. There is also a brief note about medical theories of lesbianism, in particular, the “enlarged clitoris” theory, as well as theories of gender “inversion.”

Contents summary: 

Although this article is placed in the “Enlightenment Culture” section of the book, this survey article begins with references to several modern horror/gothic works that connect the themes of hidden supernatural terrors with hidden sexualities. But despite the modern recognition of how these themes are connected, and despite the graphic depiction of a wide range of “forbidden” sexualities featured in the historic gothic genre, male homosexuality is startlingly absent in historic gothic works (though not in historic pornographic works). Examining this problem, Bruhm notes that in 19th century gothic works, homosexuality is hinted at with innuendo or vague threat and is concealed under symbolic tropes. To illustrate this, he focuses on two works: Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk: A Romance and J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla.

In The Monk, the apparently pederastic desire between the head of a monastery and the mysterious, attractive young novice is resolved away from homoeroticism when the novice is revealed to be a woman in disguise, after which the story turns to more traditional heterosexual gothic transgressions when the abbot sexually assaults and murders a second woman who turns out to be his sister. The looming threat of male homosexuality is vaguely present, but never directly articulated, then is resolved by the gender reveal followed by the quite directly articulated heterosexual sexual transgressions. Homophobia inserts itself in the “unspeakability” of the (illusory) same-sex desire.

In Carmilla, by contrast, the looming threat is the vampire Carmilla who insinuates herself into the life and bed of the young woman, Laura, caressing her both in dreams and in reality, and stealing both her innocence and life by drinking her blood. Carmilla represents, not simply lesbian desire, but sexual liberation in general. Nor is she entirely unsympathetic, adopting gothic tropes of the orphan cast alone in the world on the kindness of strangers. But at the same time, Carmilla embodies the icon of the aristocratic, languorous predator who features in decadent literature largely as a male fantasy. Here, homophobia appears in the framing of Carmilla and Laura’s relationship as predatory (as well as in the opinions of literary critics who sometimes insist that the story’s lesbianism is not about lesbianism, but is a symbolic stand-in for something else entirely).

Contents summary: 

The article begins by tackling the complicated question of the correspondence between 19th-century, intensely affectionate, same-sex friendships and current understandings of same-sex desire. Based on the emotional language (and domestic arrangements) of many 19th-century, same-sex pairs, the urge to identify these feelings and people as “homosexual” is strong. And (the question I always want to ask.) does it matter whether we can clearly categorize people in this way? As an article about literature, Castiglia focuses on authors, and how they expressed the range of intimate feelings – including love, sex, romance, friendship – in their writings. Is it correct – as Foucault asserts – to claim that such people cannot be considered “homosexual” until that category was invented by late 19th century, sexologists and promulgated into general knowledge? Or is it reasonable to see the range of earlier homoerotic experiences as representing a cultural phenomenon, one that can reasonably be labeled “queer” in modern parlance?

The article notes Smith-Rosenberg’s study of how women’s intimacies were accepted and integrated with marital expectations. In contrast, men’s same-sex intimate friendships went through a more drastic revision from the unselfconscious romanticism of the early 19th century (often expressed in terms of intellectual and emotional closeness, rather than sensuality) to the self-conscious anxiety around male-male relations, introduced later in the century.

One feature of these romantic friendships was the potential for feelings of loss and disappointment when social forces interfered with them. Emily Dickinson’s longing letters to Susan Gilbert are offered as an illustrative example.

The next section of the article looks at male cross-racial intimate friendships and the complex dynamics that race added to the mix. In literary examples, these cross-racial relations often depict the racialized character as ultimately harmed within the relationship, if only by the careless ignorance of the white character, although there are counterexamples. I the relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg in Moby Dick is examined. The intersection of m/m friendships in life and literature for Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman is explored.

Another, darker view of f/f, romantic friendship is explored in Margaret Sweat’s novel Ethel’s Love Life, in the form of letters from a woman to her male fiancé, which brings an element of voyeurism to the table.

The article concludes with an examination of the transformation of romantic friendships on an individual level, to a subculture of same-sex desire in the writings of Theodore Winthrop.

Contents summary: 

This article works through a lens of the sexualization of Black identities and Black bodies, as well as how desire is constructed in Black writing. The content is not limited to writers with same-sex desire and covers up through 1930, looking at three distinct eras: antebellum, later 19th century, and Harlem Renaissance. [Note: the Harlem Renaissance is a rich historic and social era, but falls outside the time scope of the Project.]

One issue with viewing this article as covering gay and lesbian topics is that the author views all black sexuality of the antebellum period as non-normative and therefore inherently “queer” regardless of the genders involved.

Relevant mentions include Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s 1895 story “Natalie” about a tomboy girl, who has a homoerotic (but not actively sexual) relationship with another girl.

Racial “passing” is discussed as another inherently “queer” act, in parallel with gender passing.

The letters of Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus are mentioned briefly, as are the writings of Angela Weld-Grimké. The remainder of the chapter concerns the 20th century Harlem renaissance.

Contents summary: 

This chapter looks at two creative movements that intersected strongly with queer representation. Of these, the decadent movement was more pervasive. While centered in France, it was international in scope, while the aesthetic movement was primarily British. The author is interested in these movements in how they expressed the complexities and contradictions of developing “queer modernity.”

Unfortunately, in the middle of a self-indulgent dive into glorying in these complexities and contradictions, there isn’t really a coherent through-line in the article to summarize, and very little that relates directly to the concepts “gay and lesbian.”


Contents summary: 

That takes care of all the chapters that cover pre-20th century material. Here’s what the rest of the book covers:

Part IV - Queer Modernisms

  • Danius, Sara “Black Socks, Green Threads: On Proust and the Hermeneutics of Inversion”
  • Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha “‘This Sudden Silence’: A Brief History of the Literature of Caribbean Women Who Love Women”
  • Cole, Merrill “Modernist Poetry”
  • Gurfinkel, Helena “Queer, Cosmopolitan”

Part V - Geographies of Same-Sex Desire in the Modern World

  • Baer, Brian James “Russian Gay and Lesbian Literature”
  • Pérez-Sánchez, Gema “Spanish Literature in the Long Twentieth Century, 1898-2007”
  • Dubois, Philippe C. “French and Francophone Literature”
  • Dunton, Chris & Neville Hoad “African Literatures”
  • Bose, Brinda “Notes on Queer Politics in South Asia and Its Diaspora”
  • Sieber, Patricia “The Crucible of Space, Time, and Words: Female Same-Sex Subjectivities in Contemporary Chinese-Language Contexts”
  • Keating, Analouise “Mesoamerican Mythmaking as Queer(ed) Visionary Hermeneutics”
  • Tatonetti, Lisa “Native American Literatures”
  • Reid-Pharr, Robert “African American and African-Diasporic Writing, Post-1930”

Part VI - Genres of the Present

  • Keenaghan, Eric “Queer Poetry in the Long Twentieth Century”
  • Warner, Sara “Lesbian and Gay Drama”
  • Stevens, Hugh “Contemporary Gay and Lesbian Fiction in English”
  • Bergman, David “Autobiography”
  • Scott, Darieck “The Literature of ‘What If…?’”
  • Bronski, Michael “Gay Male and Lesbian Pulp Fiction and Mass Culture”
  • Tribunella, Eric L. “Childhood Studies: Children’s and Young Adult Literature”

Dean, Tim & Steven Ruszczycky “AIDS Literatures”