Gay men's literature in the United States (1903 - 1968) : uncovering the buried roots of a queer tradition
Burgess, Adam Wayne
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This dissertation draws on queer-postmodernism and feminist standpoint theory to investigate and describe aspects of the gay American literary tradition before the historic Stonewall Riots. Specifically, the dissertation offers four points of enquiry: the significance of a text's displacement in time and location; the successful pulp fiction genre; the importance of intertextuality in establishing discourse; and the complexities of gender and sexuality in fictional texts that incorporate and describe same-sex relationships. There are many works that examine gay American writing in the twentieth-century but much of this scholarship pertains to literature of the 1950s and later; criticism of gay texts published before Stonewall is severely limited. The output of texts by gay American writers begins before the twentieth-century but grows rapidly in scale and clarity of purpose after Whitman, beginning especially with Charles Warren Stoddard's For the Pleasure of His Company (1903). As a literary historiography, this dissertation treats questions of culture and society alongside close readings of representative texts to argue that the gay literary tradition in the United States is intricately linked to institutions such as medicine, psychology, publication methods, and the law.