Lesbian Lives

Lesbian Lives : Identity and Auto/biography in the Twentieth Century

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Does our sense of what is said - or not said - to be "factual" shape our sense of sexuality and self? How far have representations of lesbianism moved from the pathology and deviancy of the 1920s and 1930s to the lesbian chic of the 1990s? And how far is the notion of a specific lesbian identity problematised by the contradictions of identity politics and the heterosexism of critical language? This study addresses these questions of lesbian representation. It considers the subject within the broader context of gender, sexuality and the construction of identity in a postmodern culture, comparing the coded, the indirect, the oblique and the hidden of the 1920s with the "out" of the queer 1990s. Building on the numerous studies of lesbianism in fiction and popular culture, the book explores the construction of lesbian identities in popular and critical biographies, autobiographies and diaries, as well as newspaper stories, obituaries and reviews. As notions of identity, self and other become more fluid, it uses genre and period to examine lesbian critical theory and to move beyond existing notions of the permissible and the acceptable in a call for a more radical critical language.
The book extends the boundaries of enquiry with an investigation into the ways in which lesbians self-represent and are themselves written about in the so-called "factual modes" of non-fiction.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 135 x 215 x 17.78mm | 408g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • notes, references, bibliography, index
  • 0745311318
  • 9780745311319

Review quote

'Nicky Hallett considers to what extent lesbian representation has changed from the deviancy of the 1920s to the lesbian chic of the 1990s ... positively fascinating.' --Feminist Bookstore News
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About Nicky Hallett

Margaret Davies has published several works in legal theory and feminism, including Asking the Question (Sweet and Maxwell, 1994). She is currently senior lecturer in Law at the Flinders University of South Australia.
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Table of contents

Historicised contexts - lesbianism in the 1920s and 1930s; lesbian lives in the 1920s and 1930s; lesbian autobiography in the early 20th century; historicised contexts - "The Lesbian" and late 20th century; lesbian lives in the later 20th century; lesbian autobiography in the later 20th century; visual autobiography - (self)portraits and lesbian iconography across the 20th century.
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