Sapphistries : A Global History of Love between Women

3.6 (214 ratings by Goodreads)
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A lyrical and meticulously researched mapping of the ways in which diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and geograhy

From the ancient poet Sappho to tombois in contemporary Indonesia, women throughout history and around the globe have desired, loved, and had sex with other women. In beautiful prose, Sapphistries tells their stories, capturing the multitude of ways that diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and place.

Leila J. Rupp reveals how, from the time of the very earliest societies, the possibility of love between women has been known, even when it is feared, ignored, or denied. We hear women in the sex-segregated spaces of convents and harems whispering words of love. We see women beginning to find each other on the streets of London and Amsterdam, in the aristocratic circles of Paris, in the factories of Shanghai. We find women's desire and love for women meeting the light of day as Japanese schoolgirls fall in love, and lesbian bars and clubs spread from 1920s Berlin to 1950s Buffalo. And we encounter a world of difference in the twenty-first century, as transnational concepts and lesbian identities meet local understandings of how two women might love each other.

Giving voice to words from the mouths and pens of women, and from men's prohibitions, reports, literature, art, imaginings, pornography, and court cases, Rupp also creatively employs fiction to imagine possibilities when there is no historical evidence. Sapphistries combines lyrical narrative with meticulous historical research, providing an eminently readable and uniquely sweeping story of desire, love, and sex between women around the globe from the beginning of time to the present.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 314 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22.86mm | 431g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 29 illustrations
  • 0814777260
  • 9780814777268
  • 364,401

Table of contents

Preface 1 Introduction 2 In the Beginning (40,000-1200 BCE) 3 In Ancient Worlds (3500 BCE-800 CE) 4 In Unlikely Places (500 BCE-1600 CE) 5 In Plain Sight (1100-1900) 6 Finding Each Other (1600-1900) 7 What's in a Name? (1890-1930) 8 In Public (1920-1980) 9 A World of Difference (1960-Present) 10 Conclusion Notes References Index About the Author
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Review quote

Sapphistries is amazing.. -- John D'Emilio,author of Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women achieves what it set out to do by providing an overview of lesbian love from a historical and cultural perspective. * * Every decade or so, a brave thinker makes an attempt to chart the historical maps of women loving women. Rupps contribution is perhaps one of the most elegant and interestingmaking up for the lapses of the past, Sapphistries sails an international course, giving us a rich mix of historical sources and an even richer gift of asking questions at just the right places. -- Joan Nestle,co-editor of GenderQueer Rupps sweeping and highly readable synthesis of womens same-sex love and sexuality is also a finely crafted work of historical analysis. Her deep knowledge of the sources, from ancient to modern times, is truly impressive, while her use of literary imaginings make this a unique contribution to sexuality studies. -- Estelle Freedman,author of No Turning Back Rupp has given us an invaluable history that promises to inform and inspire. * San Francisco Chronicle * Judicious, copious, scholarly and heartfelt, it will appeal equally to general readers and serious historians for its carefully chosen content and its novel methodology... As to methodology, Rupp is an old school historian who scrupulously recognizes the limitations of her craft, but who doesnt let those limitations keep her from rich imaginings and a refreshingly humane interest in the historical record... Sixty six pages of endnotes attest to the seriousness of the work; over two hundred pages of lucid and accessible prose make history fun again. * Salem Press, Magill Book Reviews * The narrative shines when Rupp describes love between women in its many forms, whether innocent (the schoolgirl & raves of early twentieth-century England) or romantic (intense & romantic friendships throughout the Western world) or outright erotic. With acute cultural sensitivity and a panoramic scope stretching from early Native American societies to contemporary India, Rupp delivers an academically rigorous and brilliantly told history. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * Rupp succeeds in writing a fascinating and at times startling transnational history. . . . The range of this book is extraordinary. . . . Rupp has given us an invaluable history that promises to inform and inspire. * The San Francisco Chronicle * This is a useful source text that expands, rather than contracts, the interpretations of erotic subjectivities among women who desire women. * Historian * A fascinating book about the history of same-sex female attraction. . .reminds the reader all too poignantly never to take hard-won sexual freedoms for granted. * Bust Magazine * Rupps intellectually ambitious monograph attempts to present and trace the diverse threads of lesbian history in a worldwide and comparative framework... The resulting text is thought-provoking, readable, and challenging and belongs in every college and university library. * CHOICE *
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About Leila J. Rupp

Leila J. Rupp is Professor of Feminist Studies and Associate Dean of the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is author of many books, including Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women (NYU Press, 2009) and A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Sexuality in America (University fo Chicago Press, 2001).
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Rating details

214 ratings
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 20% (43)
4 39% (83)
3 28% (59)
2 8% (18)
1 5% (11)
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