Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History

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Overview

Staging Desire gathers critical and biographical essays on notable stage personalities who made their mark before 1969, when the Stonewall riots accelerated the lesbian and gay rights movement in the United States. How they staged their unconventional sexualities greatly influenced the course of their personal and professional lives, and thus the course of American theater history. Shaping theatrical representations from offstage, these practitioners -- playwrights, lyricists, critics, and designers -- exploited the special opportunities theater offered as a complex and many-layered medium for the expression of transgressive desire. Highlighted in these essays are major figures Clyde Fitch, Rachel Crothers, Mercedes de Acosta, Djuna Barnes, Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart, George Kelly, William Inge, James "Acorn" Oaks, Adam "Vagabond" Badeau, Eric Bentley, Loie Fuller, Robert Edmond Jones, and Jean Rosenthal. Grounded in research into the history of sexuality, the book engages central problems of terminology and evidence in analyzing sexual practices of the past and the modes of articulation of sexuality in theater, conditioned by American culture's peculiar anxieties about both.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Clyde Fitch's Too Wilde Love 23
Rachel Crothers: An Exceptional Woman in a Man's World 55
Say What You Will about Mercedes de Acosta 81
Djuna Barnes: The Most Famous Unknown 105
George Kelly, American Playwright: Characters in the Hands of an Angry God 126
Let's Do It: The Layered Life of Cole Porter 145
Lorenz Hart: This Can't Be Love 167
Dorothy's Friend in Kansas: The Gay Inflections of William Inge 194
"Appealing to the Passions": Homoerotic Desire and Nineteenth-Century Theater Criticism 221
"That's the Kind of Gal I Am": Drag Balls, Lulu Belles, and "Sexual Perversion" in the Harlem Renaissance 262
The Gay Man as Thinker: Eric Bentley's Many Closets 288
The Electric Fairy: The Woman behind the Apparition of Loie Fuller 311
"Not as Other Boys": Robert Edmond Jones and Designs of Desire 338
A Lifetime in Light: Jean Rosenthal's Careers, Collaborations, and Commitments to Women 365
Notes on the Contributors 391
Index 395
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