Queer People: Negotiations and Expressions of Homosexuality, 1700-1800

Queer People: Negotiations and Expressions of Homosexuality, 1700-1800

Queer People: Negotiations and Expressions of Homosexuality, 1700-1800

Queer People: Negotiations and Expressions of Homosexuality, 1700-1800

Synopsis

Exploring canonical and non-canonical literature, scurrilous pamphlets and court cases, music, religion and politics, consumer culture and sexual subcultures, these essays concern the lives and representations of homosexuals in the long eighteenth century

Excerpt

I am a middle-aged, gay, white American male. Although I have never before begun a critical study with a disclosure of my particulars before, I now firmly believe that literary criticism usually tells us as at least as much about the author as it does the text in question. Much of my early work trying to digest the normative studies of Alexander Parker kept leading me back to Parker himself: British, Catholic, formalist, and deeply conformist. I would hazard a guess that most critics who have led the way in dealing with literature by women have been women themselves. It is mostly Latinos who study Mexican American literature and in general, at least among my acquaintances born in a Spanish-speaking country, there is a tendency for Spaniards to study Spanish literature, Argentines to study Southern Cone literature, and Puerto Ricans to study Caribbean literature. Not only do I find nothing wrong with these correlations, I consider this phenomenon a perfectly understandable manifestation of extending one’s personal journey of discovery to the literature of the culture to which one belongs.

One of the more surprising outcomes of my seemingly endless midlife crisis has been a deep reflection on what it is about the Spanish comedia that has led me to spend my professional life studying it. After all, why would a gay man in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century read, study, and obsess over minor points concerning Spanish Baroque theater written four hundred years ago on another continent in another, sometimes impenetrable, poetic language. Worse yet, the comedia has been called an instrument of the Spanish empire, which was characterized by economic injustice, religious intolerance, racism, sexism, and colonialism and in which minor variations from social norms declared by straight white men were met with draconian . . .

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