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PS153.G38 Q44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The Queer Sixtiesassembles an impressive group of cultural critics to go against the grain of 1960s studies, and proposes new and different ways of the last decade before the closet doors swung open. Imbued with the zeitgeist of the 60s, this playful and powerful collection rescues the persistence of the queer imaginary.

Author Notes

Patricia Juliana Smithis Assistant Professor of English at UCLA.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The bold premise of Smith's anthology is that contemporary lesbian and gay culture did not begin in June 1969 with the Stonewall riots. These 14 essays by "scholars trained as literary critics" do not form a social history, but "employ the methodologies of textual criticism to `read' the queer iconography" present in much 1960s culture. Smith's contributors cover both obvious subjectsÄlesbian pulp novels, the British playwright Joe Orton and Mart Crowley's The Boys in the BandÄand surprising ones: Valerie Solanas and the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, Dusty Springfield's career and the homoeroticism of Jim Morrison. Smith's instinct that representations of homosexuality were not only prevalent in 1960s culture but clearly set the stage for the gay liberation movement is persuasive, and her choice of topics expands the parameters of how "queer culture" is conceptualized. At their best, the essays make astonishing, even brilliant associative leaps. In "Give Us a Kiss," Ann Shillinglaw links surrealism and sexual alienation in her dissection of the homoeroticism of the Beatles film A Hard Day's Night. In "Myra Breckenridge and the Pathology of Heterosexuality," Douglas Eisner uses New Left politics and feminism to explicate Gore Vidal's work. Unfortunately, many of the essays are shot through with the jargon of postmodern critical theory ("Solanas's attempt to resignify `scum' in her manifesto must take into account its previous use by dominant discourses"), which may diminish the readership for this notable collection of essays. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Smith's volume examines the iconography of queer sexuality in popular culture during the decade preceding Stonewall. Fourteen essays arranged in five subsections approach this topic through subjects ranging from pulp fiction and pop music to theater and film. Smith (UCLA) provides an introduction, and each of the essays includes substantial notes. Overall, the volume is a valuable reminder that queer sexuality had been making subversive forays into public recognition before the Stonewall riot provided a catalyst for the politics of gay identity. Among the more insightful essays are David Bergman's on gay pulp fiction of the 1960s, Kelly Cresap's on Andy Warhol's persona as a naive trickster, Smith's own essay on the camp masquerades of Dusty Springfield, Jennifer Rich's on William Wyler's film The Children's Hour, and William A. Cohen's on James Baldwin's Another County. One recurring theme is the internalized ambivalence toward same-sex relations that characterizes so much of the work examined here. Another is the use of diverse strategies for concealing as well as revealing the artists' own stances at a point when the parameters of "gay" as an identity were still being formulated. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate libraries. J. J. Marchesani; Pennsylvania State University, McKeesport Campus