Browsing: American Originals

May – June, 2008

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Following is the introduction to the forthcoming book, Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster (Da Capo Press). Reprinted with permission.

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“MORE AND MORE I dread futility,” confesses one of Adrienne Rich’s speakers in Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. “Maybe I couldn’t write fast enough. Maybe it was too soon,” Rich muses in another poem, as if her message might be better understood by future generations.

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THOSE OLD ENOUGH will recall the classic photograph of the blond young man sticking flowers into the rifle barrels of soldiers who were there to defend America against the hippies who had vowed to levitate the Pentagon in a massive demonstration in October 1967. The young man was George Harris III, who went through many transformations before his death from AIDS in 1982.

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… While there were noticeably fewer GLBT films at this year’s Sundance than in recent years, the festival never fails to recognize filmmakers whose work projects the lives of gay people into the cultural landscape. …

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IN AN ESSAY titled “The Autumn in Florence,” Henry James reflected on the physical changes in the city that had been, for a brief period in the 1860’s, the capital of the newly formed Italian state.

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Jonathan Williams, who died on March 16 at age 79, was known for many things, but dullness was never one of them. Photographer, poet, essayist, folk art aficionado, and founder of the Jargon Society-an enterprise devoted to publishing “maverick poets, stray photographers, oligarchs, and characters,” and …

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JOSEPH A. MASSAD, an associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, does not shy from controversy. His departmental home page provides his response to an ad hoc grievance committee report that investigated allegations he intimidated students who disagreed with his political views on Israel. Massad turns the tables and accuses his detractors of a persistent witch-hunt.

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Allan Berube
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THE OBITUARY OF ALLAN BÉRUBÉ that appeared in The New York Times began with a reference to his MacArthur Fellowship and then moved on to Coming Out Under Fire (1990), his groundbreaking history of gay men and lesbians during World War II. Such obvious attention to these two markers as the signal achievements of his life is understandable. The MacArthur award labeled Allan a “genius,” and a book about World War II planted him squarely in the mainstream of American history. As a topic, it is readily legible to almost everyone as “important.”

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… James Davidson is famous for his fascinating study of Greek culinary pleasures (Courtesans and Fishcakes, 1998), and many scholars (including himself) expected him to provide the new paradigm on Greek homosexuality. Instead, he has refurbished a Victorian model: Greek love was not all about boys and sex; it was all about couples and romance. …

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