Straight Writ Queer

Non-Normative Expressions of Heterosexuality in Literature

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About the Book

The advent of gay and lesbian studies as an academic field opened the door for a new exploration of sexuality in literature. Here, works generally considered heterosexual are re-examined in the light of queer theory. The notion of homosexuality is viewed as a social construction that emerged during the 19th century, with a definitive difference between biological sex and gendered behavior.
Heterosexuality is determined by whether sexual performance conforms to society-designated gender roles. From this wider perspective, this book examines literature previously viewed as “straight” in a search for alternative manifestations of desire and performance, relationships that contain an apparent disconnect between gender and desire. With broad coverage of many periods, authors, and genres, the 17 essays identify inherently queer heterosexual practices and critique the idea of heteronormativity, blurring the line between homo- and heterosexuality. Topics discussed include sodomy and chastity; Victorian literature; the relationship between sex, gender and desire; and the instability in literary portrayals of gender and sexuality. George Eliot, George Meredith, Ernest Hemingway, and Rider Haggard are among the many authors discussed.

About the Author(s)

Editor Richard Fantina is also the author of Ernest Hemingway: Machismo and Masochism and co-editor of Victorian Sensations: Essays on a Scandalous Genre. He lives in Westfield, Vermont.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Richard Fantina
[Foreword by Calvin Thomas]
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 274
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2638-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword: Crossing the Streets, Queering the Sheets, or: “Do You Want to Save the Changes to Queer Heterosexuality?”
CALVIN THOMAS      1
Preface      9
Introduction
RICHARD FANTINA      11

Part I: Imperfect Sodomy and Queer Chastity
1. Back Door Sex: Renaissance Gynosodomy, Aretino, and the Exotic
CELIA R. DAILEADER      25
2. Pegging Ernest Hemingway: Masochism, Sodomy, and the Dominant Woman
RICHARD FANTINA      46
3. Queer Desire and Heterosexual Consummation in the Anchoritic Mystical Tradition
SUSANNAH MARY CHEWNING      68
4. Deviant Celibacy: Renouncing Dinah’s Little Fetish in Adam Bede
KATE FABER OESTREICH      82

Part II: The Victorians, of Course
5. The Mark of the Brotherhood: Homosexual Panic and the Foreign Other in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White
RICHARD NEMESVARI      95
6. “A rod of flexible steel in that little hand”: Female Dominance and Male Masochism in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Aurora Floyd
DENISE HUNTER GRAVATT      109
7. “Was ever hero in this fashion won?” Alternative Sexualities in the Novels of George Meredith
MELISSA SHIELDS JENKINS      124
8. She: Rider Haggard’s Queer Adventures
SHANNON YOUNG      134

Part III: The Incommensurability of Sex/Gender/Desire
9. Strange Anatomy, Strange Sexuality: The Queer Body in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex
ZACHARY SIFUENTES      145
10. Freudian Foreplay: Lesbian Failure and Freud’s Desire in “The Psychogenesis of a Case of Homosexuality in a Woman”
ASHLEY T. SHELDEN      158
11. Latent Lesbians and Heterosexual Narrative: Tracing a Queer Poetics in Fay Weldon’s Fiction
LORENA RUSSELL      170
12. Stepping into the Same River Twice: The Tragic Sexual Mulatto and Subversion of the Inside/Outside Dialectic in the Novels of E. Lynn Harris and Alice Walker
GRACE SIKORSKI      183
13. “Beautiful, or thick, or right, or complicated”: Queer Heterosexuality in the Young Adult Works of Cynthia Voigt and Francesca Lia Block
DEBORAH KAPLAN and REBECCA RABINOWITZ      197

Part IV: Instabilities and Wayward Subversions
14. Nom de Guerre: Homosociality in Timothy Findley’s The Wars
SHELTON WALDREP      209
15. Granville Barker’s Effeminate Heterosexuals: The New Drama’s New Men
ANNE STILES      219
16. “The most primeval of passions”: Incest in the Service of Women in Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop
MADELEINE MONSON-ROSEN      232
17. “If thou art God, avenge thyself !” Sade and Swinburne as Christian Atheists
CAROL POSTER      244

About the Contributors      259
Index      263