Young adult literature featuring teenage lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning characters is fast growing in popularity. Unlike the "problem novels" of the past, which focused on the guilt, bullying and isolation of LGBTQ characters, today's narratives present more sympathetic and celebratory portrayals. The author explores a selection of recent novels--many of which may be new to readers--and places them in the wider contexts of LGBTQ literature and history. Chapters discuss a range of topics, including the relationship of Queer Theory to literature, LGBTQ families, and recent trends in utopian and dystopian science fiction.
"Carson asked Wilde about letters to Douglas and two of his own published works, The Portrait of Dorian Gray and Phrases and Philosophies for Use of the Young. Wilde defended the works against Carson's suggestions that they were immoral or touched on homosexual themes. "There is no such thing as an immoral work," Wilde asserted in Dorian Gray, rather "books are well written, or badly written."
"It was not enough that the prison sentence he endured for his relationship effectively killed him; it was also important to strip his work of its identity. Still today, there are works of Oscar Wilde’s that are edited to remove any parts that may suggest queer characters or relationships, and there is nothing more offensive than that. They killed him, and then they stole his art. "
"The censorship of Oscar Wilde’s work is nothing less than desecration, and the fact that censored copies of The Picture of Dorian Grey are more common than the original shows we have not come as far as we often pretend we have."
"Still, book challenges are more common than ever. Between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 alone, there were 1,586 book bans in 86 school districts across 26 states—affecting more than two million students, according to PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for free speech. Stories featuring LGBTQ+ issues or protagonists were a “major target” of bans..."
"Censorship existed in the United States from its beginnings, the existence of the First Amendment notwithstanding. But although there were federal anti-obscenity laws, censorship itself was not mandated by federal or state governments. What codified censorship was the 1873 Comstock Act, which called for the banning of literature deemed sexually arousing, even indirectly. The man for whom the act is named, Anthony Comstock, was the leader of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and a special agent for both the U.S. Post Office and the New York state prosecutor’s office. The Comstock Act banned the mailing, importation, and transportation of any printed material (even private letters) that contained lewd or lascivious material.
...books that were affected by the Comstock Act included The Decameron (written by Giovanni Boccaccio in the fourteenth century), Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata, Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover."
"In a world that hid homosexuality from view, lesbian pulps were surprisingly pervasive, and popular. Many of the books, and nearly all of their covers, reinforced homophobic stereotypes of lesbianism. But for women in search of more information about lesbianism, they were lifelines. The culture suppressed lesbianism, Keller argues, but ironically, this suppression inflamed things, forcing lesbian representation into forbidden-fruit pulp."
"Publishers likely never intended any of these books to tumble into the hands of impressionable young women, and certainly not those about lesbian love. A publishing revolution in the 1940s had put millions of inexpensive paperbacks in the pockets of soldiers—a democratic way to entertain troops that transformed the way people thought about paperback books. Pulp fiction was the end result. The books offered as many racy subgenres as there were sexual proclivities, all marketed to the men who had now come back from the war. They were cheap and disposable, designed to be read and tossed out. Yet the most successful among them sold in the hundreds of thousands or even the millions—and many of these were lesbian pulps."
This Companion examines the connections between LGBTQ populations and American literature from the late eighteenth to twenty-first centuries. It surveys primary and secondary writings under the evolving category of gay and lesbian authorship, and incorporates current thinking in US-based LGBTQ studies as well as critical practices within the field of American literary studies. This Companion also addresses the ways in which queerness pervades persons, texts, bodies, and reading, while paying attention to the transnational component of such literatures. In so doing, it details the chief genres, conventional historical backgrounds, and influential interpretive practices that support the analysis of LGBTQ literatures in the United States.
Exploring forms of desire unaccounted for in previous histories of sexuality What can the Renaissance tell us at our present moment about who and what is "queer," as well as the political consequences of asking? In posing this question, The Shapes of Fancy offers a powerful new method of accounting for ineffable and diffuse forms of desire, mining early modern drama and prose literature to describe new patterns of affective resonance. Starting with the question of how and why readers seek traces of desire in texts from bygone times and places, The Shapes of Fancy demonstrates a practice of critical attunement to the psychic and historical circulations of affect across time within texts, from texts to readers, and among readers. Closely reading for uncharted desires as they recur in early modern drama, witchcraft pamphlets, and early Atlantic voyage narratives and demonstrating how each is structured by qualities of secrecy, impossibility, and excess, Christine Varnado follows four "shapes of fancy": the desire to be used to others' ends; indiscriminate, bottomless appetite; paranoid self-fulfilling suspicion; and melancholic longings for impossible transformations and affinities. These affective dynamics go awry in atypical and perverse ways. In other words, argues Varnado, these modes of feeling are recognizable on the page or stage as "queer" because of how, and not by whom, they are expressed. This new theorization of desire expands the notion of queerness in literature, decoupling the literary trace of queerness from the binary logics of same-sex versus opposite-sex and normative versus deviant that have governed early modern sexuality studies. Providing a set of methods for analyzing affect and desire in texts from any period, The Shapes of Fancy stages an impassioned defense of the inherently desirous nature of reading, making a case for readerly investment and identification as vital engines of meaning making and political insight.
Critical analysis of the dramatisation of homosexuality in British fiction about the Second World War is noticeable only by its relative absence from the field. Whereas feminist literary criticism has broadened the canon of war fiction to include narratives by and about women, queer scholars have seldom focused on literary representations of homosexuality during the war. Natalie Marena Nobitz closes a glaring gap in the critical attention of four novels dealing with the disruption of gender roles and institutionalised heteronormativity: Walter Baxter's Look Down in Mercy (1951), Mary Renault's The Charioteer (1952), Sarah Waters' The Night Watch (2006) and Adam Fitzroy's Make Do and Mend (2012).