Issues Archives: Excavations

September – October, 2011

Henry James and the Queerness of Style by Kevin Ohi

Writing Strange

NEAR THE END of this brilliant study, Kevin Ohi draws a comparison that is surprisingly down-to-earth in a book that expresses complex ideas in the highly technical language of contemporary literary criticism and queer studies.

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Sex Panic and the Punitive State by Roger N. Lancaster

Masters of Our Domain

SEX PANIC and the Punitive State is part polemic, part social history, and part personal story about the policing of sexual behavior in the United States.

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Roman Camp: The Case of Catullus 16

COULD what we call “camp” turn out to be, like aqueducts and concrete, an invention of the ancient Romans? Roman poets such as Catullus, Martial, and Juvenal are notorious for their ridicule of freeborn Roman males who submit to sexual penetration. These poets regularly label their male peers with Latin terms such as cinaedus, pathicus, impudicus, and mollis, none of which has a precise English equivalent, but all of which are pejorative words that mark men as effeminate and sexually submissive. I ask you to consider here the possibility that some Roman poems that use this kind of language are not earnest homophobic ridicule at all, but a very early instance of what we in the 20th century came to call “camp.”

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Human Subjects Bare All

GAY MEN have larger penises on average than do straight men … This is just one of numerous findings brought to light by co-authors Ogi Ogas, a computational neuroscientist, and Sai Gaddam …

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Time Well Bent: Queer Alternative Histories Edited by Connie Wilkins


THE CHIEF PLEASURE of this varied anthology lies in its imaginative breadth. Editor Connie Wilkins has collected fourteen stories from established and emerging writers of GLBT fiction that speak to both the “queer” and the “histories” of the subtitle

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The Love Letters of J. J. Winckelmann

THE ACHIEVEMENTS of antiquarian and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768), the representative gay æsthete of his century, are not in dispute. Winckelmann, the son of a northern German cobbler, moved to Rome and became the librarian of Cardinal Albani and curator of Roman antiquities in the Vatican. He was the leading spirit behind the first wave of Neoclassicism, an international art movement centered in Rome. Arguably he created the discipline of art history as we now know it, transforming the traditional, dry archaeological description into fervent and poetic art criticism that expressed his love of Greco-Roman beauty.

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Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology by Patrick S. Cheng

Short reviews

Reviews of Great Speeches on Gay Rights, Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s and Young Adult Literature, and Shades of Love.

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Fictional Fangs

As proof of the show’s growing popularity, five million viewers caught the Season Two finale, while more than twice that number tuned in for weekly installments of Season Three. The show’s political subtext has even attracted scholarly attention: the collection True Blood and Philosophy (2010) includes such chapter titles as “Coming Out of the Coffin and Coming Out of the Closet” and “Sookie, Sigmund, and the Edible Complex.”

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Henry Thoreau

The Natural Thoreau

IN RECENT YEARS, biographers of Henry David Thoreau have begun to speculate more openly about the sexual orientation of “the patron saint of environmentalists,” a man who never married in an age when marriage was de rigueur. …

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The Venetian Boy by Michael Willhoite

Deadly Sins in Venice

“THOUGH THERE ARE some disagreeable things in Venice,” Henry James once wrote, “there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors.” In the rank and twisted world of The Venetian Boy, however, author Michael Willhoite populates this coming-of-age novel set in the 1970’s entirely with unsavory characters, both visitors to the City of Canals and residents alike.

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