Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics

Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics


By (author) Douglas Crimp

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  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 145mm x 221mm x 28mm | 658g
  • Publication date: 2 April 2004
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
  • ISBN 10: 0262532646
  • ISBN 13: 9780262532648
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 38 illus.
  • Sales rank: 411,294

Product description

In Melancholia and Moralism, Douglas Crimp confronts the conservative gay politics that replaced the radical AIDS activism of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He shows that the cumulative losses from AIDS, including the waning of militant response, have resulted in melancholia as Freud defined it: gay men's dangerous identification with the moralistic repudiation of homosexuality by the wider society.With the 1993 march on Washington for lesbian and gay rights, it became clear that AIDS no longer determined the agenda of gay politics; it had been displaced by traditional rights issues such as gay marriage and the right to serve in the military. Journalist Andrew Sullivan, notorious for pronouncing the AIDS epidemic over, even claimed that once those few rights had been won, the gay rights movement would no longer have a reason to exist.Crimp challenges such complacency, arguing that not only is the AIDS epidemic far from over, but that its determining role in queer politics has never been greater. AIDS, he demonstrates, is the repressed, unconscious force that drives the destructive moralism of the new, anti-liberation gay politics expounded by such mainstream gay writers as Larry Kramer, Gabriel Rotello, and Michelangelo Signorile, as well as Sullivan. Crimp examines various cultural phenomena, including Randy Shilts's bestseller And the Band Played On, the Hollywood films "Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia," and Magic Johnson's HIV infection and retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers. He also analyzes Robert Mapplethorpe's and Nicholas Nixon's photography, John Greyson's AIDS musical "Zero Patience," Gregg Bordowitz's video "Fast Trip, Long Drop," the Names Project Quilt, and the annual "Day without Art."

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Author information

Douglas Crimp is Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. He is the author of On the Museum's Ruins and Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, both published by the MIT Press.

Review quote

"A history of recent activism written with critical intelligence..." Alan W. Grose Lambda Book Report "Crimp is one of our greatest voices and Melancholia and Moralism demonstrates importance of his role in the AIDS crisis." Thomas McGovern Afterimage "For all its fiercely and finely argued points, Melancholia and Moralism is a deeply sympathetic book." Richard Kim The Nation "In his searing writings, Crimp takes on those who would suppress the exuberant gay sexual revolution." McGovern a&u "With HIV infections on the rise, our heath care systems in disarray, we need his righteous voice more than ever." Thomas McGovern Afterimage "Melancholia and Moralism marks the first time that Crimp's own writings on AIDS have been collected in a single volume." Richard Kim The Nation