Wednesday, November 13, 2019

gay literature :: essays research papers

While sexual difference may not exist between lesbians all other forms of difference do. These include differences of identity: race, class origins, employment status, age, religion, physical abilities - and while we may struggle against these differences within our individual ‘spaces’ they have a material and institutional reality that cannot be wished away What, to you, seems important about the terms gay and lesbian in literature? In the face of a homophobic society we need creative and critical processes that draw out the complexity of lesbian lives and same sex choices, not a retreat into the comforting myths of heroines and unfractured, impeachable identities This quote addresses directly the primary difficulty of the issue. The terms gay and lesbian are useful in literature in that they allow a group of people who have been marginalised and even persecuted to become visible. They enable a way of life and a set of identities, harmonious or conflicting, to be presented, to be questioned, to be understood and accepted. As categories they create ‘space’ in which there may develop a more evolved understanding of texts and they also create a genre within which many lesbian and gay writers are comfortable with being placed. A gendered reading of a text can reveal undercurrents and depths which might otherwise not be apparent. These categories also make ‘space’ for the author within the text which leads to a closer tie between the author and the reader in the reading process. However the danger which this sort of terminology presents is that of homogenising ways both of reading and writing a text. In creating a category one is always not only creating an inclusive zone but in doing so also excluding certain elements. The risk is run of stultifying the creative process through the exclusion by a minority group of the minority groups within. As Bonnie Zimmerman writes in her essay ‘Lesbians like this and that’ By positing the lesbian as ‘excess’ in the patriarchal system we may fail to note the identities that function as ‘excess’ within our own newly created lesbian community. There is a risk of adopting a separatist approach, of placing the categories of gay and lesbian literature outside the mainstream and creating a gay canon but in doing so retaining the underlying values of that ‘patriarchal system.’ How does one avoid replicating the masculinist cultural error of taking the dominant for the universal

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