Cover image for Melancholia and moralism : essays on AIDS and Queer Politics
Melancholia and moralism : essays on AIDS and Queer Politics
Crimp, Douglas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
319 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
RA643.8 .C754 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This text confronts the conservative gay politics that replaced the radical AIDS activism of the 1980s and 1990s. It shows that the losses from AIDS, including the waning of militant responses, have resulted in melancholia as Freud defined it.

Author Notes

Douglas Crimp is Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History and Acting Co-Director, Visual and Cultural Studies Program at the University of Rochester

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

These 16 essays, originally published in journals or given as speeches between 1987 and 1995, cover the social and political consequences of AIDS, topics increasingly ignored or downplayed. Crimp (On the Museum's Ruins), professor of visual and cultural studies at the University of Rochester, casts a wide net in a variety of such interrelated fields: the politics of displaying AIDS-related art at museums, the use of the term "politically correct" to attack politicized art about the epidemic, how the mainstream media covered Magic Johnson's announcement that he was HIV-positive, the relationship of "outing" to AIDS activism. While writing in an academic tone, Crimp is unafraid of practical (and controversial) topics, as in the 1987 essay "How to Have Promiscuity in an Epidemic" which traces how antisexual, homophobic attitudes about sex fueled rather than halted the spread of AIDS, and will raise eyebrows even today. Crisp is also not afraid of criticizing other gay male writers, like Randy Shilts and Andrew Sullivan, though his judicious comparison of Sullivan's AIDS status and his own recent HIV infection is both moving and insightful. Almost all of these essays were written in the heat of political and social debates and maintain their relevance in a changed world, though some readers will lament the lack of emphasis on AIDS in the developing world. (June) Forecast: Crimp is associated with the October Group, scholars that include Rosalind Krauss and Hal Foster; On the Museum's Ruins is an oft-assigned assessment of the institutionalization of art. This book should do very well on campus, and Crimp's name and scope will bring in a nonacademic audience beyond lesbian and gay readers but the crises in Africa, India and other nations have been the main focus of recent debate. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The author of On the Museum's Ruins and editor of AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism, Crimp (visual and cultural studies, Univ. of Rochester) shores up the crumbling constructivist arguments in queer theory with a needless insistence on the return to the "us vs. them" strategy of confrontational politics. He confronts the conservative gay politics that replaced the radical AIDS activism of the late 1980s and 1990s, arguing that the AIDS epidemic is far from over and as such still plays a crucial role in queer politics. Crimp's arguments are weakened by his reliance on essays that are mainly academic conference papers, most dating back 20 years. Critiques of Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On, Jesse Helms's warfare against the National Endowment for the Arts, and decades-old PBS TV shows on AIDS are by now already dated. Because most of the author's essays probably appear in conference publications, libraries need not purchase them again in this form, although academic libraries with extensive queer studies collections may want to purchase this title out of convenience. Jeff Ingram, Newport P.L., OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Melancholia and Moralism: An Introductionp. 1
AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activismp. 27
How To Have Promiscuity in an Epidemicp. 43
Portraits of People with AIDSp. 83
Good Ole Bad Boysp. 109
Randy Shilts's Miserable Failurep. 117
Mourning and Militancyp. 129
The Boys in My Bedroomp. 151
A Day without Gertrudep. 165
Right On, Girlfriend!p. 169
The Spectacle of Mourningp. 195
Accommodating Magicp. 203
Don't Tellp. 221
Rosa's Indulgencep. 245
De-Moralizing Representations of AIDSp. 253
Painful Picturesp. 273
Sex and Sensibility, or Sense and Sexualityp. 281
Indexp. 303