Lesbian Books for Spring: More Than 150 Fascinating Finds
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Sugar of the Crop: My Journey to Find the Children of Slaves, Sana Bulter (Lyons Press)
After ten years of research and interviews Butler reveals the lives of those who were the first generation born free and raised by former slaves. Now dead, those she interviewed live on in her inspirational stories that expand our sense of American history.
Jim Crow Nostalgia: Reconstructing Race in Bronzeville, Michelle R. Boyd (University of Minnesota Press)
During the Jim Crow era of the early 20th century, the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago was a booming African American metropolis and center of a cultural explosion. After decades of decline, community organizers revitalized the neighborhood in an idealized version of the segregation days. Boyd examines how history was reinvented to meet political goals and how nostalgia contributed to the politicalization of racial identity.
Desire: A History of European Sexuality, Anna Clark (Routledge)
Author of numerous works on gender relations in history, Clark surveys sexuality in Europe from the time of Greeks to the present. Drawing from poetry, novels, pornography, film, court records, personal letters and autobiographies she integrates hetero and homo sexualities and explores the politics of sex, describing twilight moments, activities seen as shameful but tolerated under cover of darkness.
The Caveman Mystique, Martha McCaughey (Routledge)
Ah, the caveman defense: rape of women is an unavoidable part of the human male psyche, to be accepted along with bipedalism and language capability. McCaughey strips off the fur unitard of the archetypal club-wielding star of this theory to reveal the same entitled, white, straight dude who had been making excuses for his bad behavior for centuries. She counters with the lived realities of fidelity, sexuality, attraction, and economics in both sexes. If only this book could be the last word on the idea that anyone should be absolved of unacceptable behavior because of something early homo sapiens did. Or didn’t.
Finding Iris Chang, Paula Kamen (De Capo Press)
Journalist Paula Kamen’s book about her friend and colleague Iris Chang is half biography, half personal narrative. In her professional life, Chang became known for her dogged pursuit of the story of the WWII rape of Nanking, while her personal life is recounted as a navigation through bipolar disorder leading to her eventual suicide. Kamen is a brazenly subjective narrator, as kind as she is exacting in speaking to all sides of a woman whose name in print came to signify activist journalism.
Mutha’ is Half a Word, L.H. Stallings (Ohio State University Press)
Don’t let the subtitle, Intersections of Folklore, Vernacular, Myth, and Queerness in Black Female Culture, imagine this tome from Stallings—an English prof at the University of Florida—is too thinky for non-academics. She does a wonderful job of blending queer studies, women’s studies and African American studies to explore the importance of sexual desire in black women, using the “trickster” figure from folklore to navigate her theories. Though it’s difficult to easily summarize in 50 words just where the representation of black female desire is or isn’t rooted in heteronormative binaries of gay/straight, man/woman, but by using traditional tropes (queer studies, lit texts) and more modern choices (hip-hop, comedy performances), Stallings’ book does it expertly.
Thelma & Louise Live!: The Cultural Afterlife of an American Film, Bernie Cook, Editor (University of Texas Press)
Six noted film scholars examine the reception and impact of the iconic film for female rebellion. An indepth interview with screenwriter Callie Khouri compliments the scholarly analysis.
Beyond the Closet: The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Life, Steven Seidman (Routledge)
Paperback version of the award-winning 2003 work examines the recent pop culture and history to demonstrate how today’s gays are pressured to fit in and ‘look normal.' Seidman argues this justifies discrimination against those who can’t or don’t live up to the model gay citizen.
A Women’s Berlin: Building a Modern City, Despina Stratigakos (University of Minnesota Press)
Stratigakos examines the impact of women on Germany’s Berlin between 1871 and 1918, demonstrating women transformed the city—literally and figuratively. There were female journalists, artist and activists reaching women audiences and altering the image of modern women; and there were a plethora of women’s building projects (collaborative efforts between female designers, architects and patrons) that helped shape the modern city.
Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, From Vietnam to Iraq, ed. Lisa Bowden and Shannon Cain (Kore Press)
While soldier stories continue to hold a hallowed space in media and literature, the voices of the women who serve are often subdued or drowned out altogether. Cain and Bowden make a great start toward remedying this in their collection of poetry and prose. From the front lines all the way through the layers of the armed forces, this page-turner is an insider’s look at what it’s really like for women in the military.
Eyes of Desire 2: A Deaf GLBT Reader, Ed. Raymond Luczak (Handtype Press)
Queers with disabilities get little play in LGBT media so this anthology featuring works by dozens of deaf, hearing impaired and hearing queer and trans folks is especially refreshing. Don’t make the mistake though, that it’s audience should be limited to those who are deaf. This compilation is huge and as fascinating as Bi Any Other Name or Body Outlaws, doing for the queer deaf community what those books did for bisexuals and body image activists, respectively—telling their stories in a way so illuminating to outsiders that the book should become a must-have tome for any LGBT reader. At the very least, read it and learn why words like oralist and audism should be in any thinking person’s vocabulary.
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