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Queer Sexualities in French and Francophone Literature and Film

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The steady development of queer theory over the last two decades has provided useful analytical tools and the will to dismiss the watchdog of heteronormativity. Modes of reading have evolved, as this volume of <I>FLS</I> amply attests. Following Bill Edmiston’s introduction to the volume — a concise and informative history of queer theory — the fifteen articles reveal, not surprisingly, significant diversity. One deals with queerness in the context of medieval writing where allegorical and euphemistic expression were understood to be irreconcilable. Another treats translations in Early Modern France of an Ovidian fable that had an inconvenient lesbian dimension. Rousseau’s fixation on his bottom (e.g., for spankings) points to a queer streak, while Gautier’s <I>Mademoiselle de Maupin</I> enhances the theme of sexual misidentity with ornamental figures. The queerness of Sand’s <I>La Mare au diable</I> emerges in the course of a contrasexual reading. A musicologist investigates the possibility of a lesbian esthetics of music in a work by Erik Satie, while a literary scholar finds evidence of Proust’s “outing” in <I>Jean Santeuil</I>. Other articles address the sense of gender transformation wrought by sodomy, a revised view on the writing subject in Jean Genet’s fiction, the queerness of heterosexuality in the works of Michel Houellebecq, and recurring motifs in recent fiction produced by “gay Paris.” Two of the articles treat activism and esthetics in film.

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