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Sexual Hegemony: Statecraft, Sodomy, and Capital in the Rise of the World System (Theory Q) Paperback – August 14, 2020
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“Homosexuality is a modern invention, and 150 years later, we’re still arguing about what it means and where it came from, and whether it was invented at all. It is, to quote Andrew Holleran, ‘like a boarding school in which there are no vacations.’ Chitty invites us to burn the boarding school down, and in the ashes, with history as our guide, to build something for everyone.”
“Christopher Chitty’s Sexual Hegemony, an ambitious retelling of the history of capitalism through the politics of gay sex...suggests new substantive and methodological directions for the history of homosexuality—directions that could transform the meaning of queer politics in our moment.”
About the Author
Max Fox is an editor of Pinko magazine, a former editor of the New Inquiry, and translator of The Amphitheater of the Dead.
Christopher Nealon is Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University and author of Foundlings: Lesbian and Gay Historical Emotion before Stonewall, also published by Duke University Press.
- Publisher : Duke University Press Books (August 14, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1478009586
- ISBN-13 : 978-1478009580
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #934,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top review from the United States
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He has a few good insights, and has conducted a lot of research. The only readable chapters are when he explain how gays were persecuted in Italy during the renaissance and his theories as to why, and then how homosexuality was treated in Holland, France and England in the 17th to 19th centuries. He touches a bit on America, but not much at all. I've read a lot of histories on homosexuality and also a lot of theories, and this is the first time I seen this sort of research and analysis. If he expanded on that, and also completed more research and analysis on the US in the 19th century, it could be an interesting book and would be a valuable read.
Strangely, though, that author goes into a lengthy discussion about public toilets in 19th century France. Middle class women found them offensive because they could see men taking a leak and also see their penis. Did high class women or low class women find them offensive? He doesn't say. What does this interesting bit of information have to do with his thesis? I have no idea.
Unfortunately, he is trying to make some sort of argument that social class and capitalism affected how gays were treated, but his argument never really gels. The editors don't do anyone any favors. From the book jacket: "Chitty shows how sexuality became a crucial dimension of the accumulation of capital and a technique of bourgeois rule." Actually, he doesn't. He assumes all those countries made the economic advances, but never explains how, why, or even gives basic information, nor does he really make the case the editors claim he does.
The editor states that it is his hope "that it will change the way we think about sexuality and anticapitalist struggle alike." That might be his hope, but I didn't get anything from the book that this is what the author hoped for. I'm as liberal as they come, but claiming that rising capitalism is one cause of persecution of homosexuals is not only a stretch, but it is contrary to recent history and the author's own research, and is never really explained in the book.
To be fair, the thesis was not completed when the author died. Perhaps he would have rewritten it for better clarity. Nonetheless, there are about 1000 people in the entire world who could understand the opening chapters and the editors' introduction, and he is apparently writing for them, not the general public.
If you obtain this book, skip the first chapter and the introductions. Skip the last chapter too. Only about half of this 192 page book is readable or even worth reading. That part is actually quite good, and you will have saved yourself a lot of trouble. And you can draw your own conclusions.