A Lure of Knowledge: Lesbian Sexuality and Theory

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Columbia University Press, 1991 - Literary Criticism - 285 pages
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Lesbianism in literature has been dealt with rather indirectly in the past. Editors have led readers to the "artistry" of a work containing lesbianism, emphasizing instead the literary history and historical context of the work rather than the representations of lesbianism. The editor for Colette's The Pure and the Impure, for instance, affirms that Colette has a knowledge of a "strange sisterhood," but assures readers she has never strayed from the "normal."

In the groundbreaking A Lure of Knowledge, Judith Roof demonstrates that representations of lesbian sexuality occupy specific locations or positions in the arguments, subject matter, and rhetoric of Western European and American literary criticism. She examines the political context of representations: how lesbian sexuality is used as a signifier an why it appears when and where it does.

Roof argues that attempts to depict or explain lesbian sexuality spur anxieties about knowledge and identity. In reaction to and denial of these anxieties, lesbian sexuality is represented in film, literature, theory, and criticism as foreplay, as simulated heterosexuality, as erotic excess, as joking inauthenticity, as artful compromise, or as masculine mask in a specific repertoire of neutralization and evasion. Challenging the heterosexism of film theory and feminist theory, this book analyzes the rhetorical use of lesbian sexuality. Roof explores a range of discourses, from the woks of such authors as Anais Nin, Olga Broumas, Julia Kristeva, Jane Rule, Luce Iriguray, and Sigmund Freud, to films such as Emmanuelle, Desert Hearts, Entre Nous, and I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, to professional tennis.

 

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Contents

ONE A View to a Thrill
15
The Sexuality
90
THREE Beginning with L
119
FOUR Freud Reads Lesbians
174
The Fear
216
six Polymorphous Diversity
237
NOTES
255
BIBLIOGRAPHY
269
INDEX
277
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About the author (1991)

Tahar Ben Jelloun, winner of the 1994 Prix Maghreb and of the 1987 Goncourt Prize for his novel La Nuit sacrée (The sacred night), has published ten novels, four books of poetry, and three works of nonfiction. His books have been widely translated and include three novels in English: Silent Day in Tangiers, Corruption, and The Sand Child. His recent Racism Explained to My Daughter has been translated into fifteen languages and has sold more than 300,000 copies.Barabara Bray lives in Paris where she is a writer, critic, and translator. She has translated many books, including The Lover by Marguerite Duras, Jacques Lacan by Elisabeth Roudinesco (Columbia, 1997), as well as three of Julia Kristeva's novels: Possessions, The Old Man and the Wolves, and The Samurai (all published by Columbia).

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