Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-century America

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Columbia University Press, 1991 - History - 373 pages
This compelling story of lesbian life in the twentieth century traces the evolution of lesbian identity and subcultures from the early years of the century--when career opportunities first enabled women to support themselves and spend their lives in "romantic friendships" with other women--to the diversity of today's life styles. Faderman uses journals, unpublished manuscripts, songs, news accounts, novels, medical literature, and numerous personal interviews with lesbians of all races, ages, and classes, to uncover and relate this often surprising narrative of lesbian life in America. Lesbian identity could emerge, Faderman maintains, only during that time, with the sexual freedom of the 1920s and the 1960s, as well as the social freedom made possible by World War II, the education of women, and the civil rights and women's movements. The term "lesbian" did not become current until the late nineteenth century, when European sexologists began to explore female same-sex loving. Where close relationships between women had once been accepted--even encouraged--the sexologists stigmatized same-sex pairing as deviant, but at the same time fostered a lesbian consciousness which was necessary before lesbian communities could be formed. This book tells how women who accepted the label "lesbian" altered the sexologists' definitions, creating identities and ideologies for themselves.--Adapted from book jacket.

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Odd girls and twilight lovers: a history of lesbian life in twentieth-century America

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Faderman charts the evolution of the concept of the "lesbian'' as a 20th-century social construct and shows how love between women, once known at the turn of the century by such terms as "romantic ... Read full review

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About the author (1991)

Lillian Faderman is professor emerita of English at California State University, Fresno, and author of the award-winning Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present and Scotch Verdict: Miss Pirie and Miss Woods v. Dame Cumming Gordon. She is also the author of Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir and To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America -- A History, and coauthor of Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians.

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