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When I decided to blog a few books on Charlotte Cushman in support of doing a podcast on her, my online searches suggested two titles that fell in the “definitive” category: Merrill’s 2000 book that I blogged last week, and Leach’s 1970 one that I’m blogging today. I hadn’t quite realized that they’d be such an object lesson in ways to approach the sexuality of 19th century queer women.

I’ve chosen two biographies of Charlotte Cushman to synchronize with the podcast about her. The one in this entry directly engages with Cushman’s same-sex desires and relationships and examines how she curated her own reputation with regard to her personal life, as well as examining how changing attitudes toward same-sex relations after Cushman’s death may have contributed to a deliberate erasure of her legacy.

This biography falls outside the Project’s pre-20th century scope, but I already owned the book and since I featured an interview about a show based on Carstairs’ life on the podcast, it felt like a good excuse to cover it in the blog. The shifting experiences and receptions of Carstairs’s same-sex relationships over her lifetime provide something of a tour through 20th century lesbian history, though of course Carstairs herself was insulated to an astounding degree by her wealth and connections.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 19d - Charlotte Cushman

(Originally aired 2018/02/24 - listen here)

The submissions have all been read and sifted through, the contracts have been sent out and signed, and now it's time to announce the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast's 2018 original fiction line-up! When I finished the first read-though of submissions, I knew immediately that I had a problem: there were just too many good stories that I wanted to buy. Fortunately, I could solve this with an executive decision. Rather than buying two stories for a half-year trial run of the fiction project, I'd just go ahead and buy four to cover all the "fifth Saturday" episodes for the entire year.

Sexual activity has a long and creative history of being described and referred to by slang and euphemism. But when the source domain of the euphemism--the "literal" meaning--is an equally ordinary everyday action, the ambiguity creates problems of interpretation. And in a field like the study of historic same-sex relations, where there is a long tradition of going to some contortions to deny even the scraps of available evidence, euphemism has long been interpreted selectively depending on the genders of the participants.

The submssions period for the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast closed last night. When I woke up, my in-box contained one last item. (Being in California, I could set the cut-off as "when I wake up on the 1st" and know that I'd included all time zones up through midnight.)

I'll start reading submissions this weekend, but in the mean time, here are some interesting stats on what came in. Since I asked people to include the time and place of the setting in the header information, I can survey those topics before reading.

Today's the last day to submit your lesbian historical short stories for consideration for the podcast. It's probably a little late to decide to write one from scratch, but if you've been working on something, make sure you don't miss the deadline. (In practical terms, anything I've received by the time I wake up tomorrow will be accepted -- that way I cover all possible time-zones -- but don't push it!) Submissions have been picking up a little as the deadline nears: a quarter of what I've received has come in within the last few days.

The next three LHMP entries are all taken from the collection Queerly Phrased: Language Gender, and Sexuality, which focuses on linguistic data and analysis. I'd picked the book up back in my linguistics grad school days, so it wasn't shelved with my gender and sexuality books and I hadn't realized it had relevant articles until I saw the title in a bibliography I was mining and said, "Hey, wait, I think I own that book!" The first two of the articles definitely show some limitations from the authors not having a deep historical background.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 19a - On the Shelf for February 2018 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2018/02/03 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for February 2018.


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