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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book . Jeannette Howard Foster was to lesbianism in the mid-twentieth century what out authors such as Gore Vidal and James Baldwin were to gay men. She unapologetically blew the lid off Cold War sexual repression in with her Sex Variant Women in Literature -the first-ever study of homosexual, bisexual, and cross-dressing characters appearing in more than works, from anci.
She unapologetically blew the lid off Cold War sexual repression in with her Sex Variant Women in Literature -the first-ever study of homosexual, bisexual, and cross-dressing characters appearing in more than works, from ancient times to the present. It is also a riveting look into the pre-Stonewall past, the intense sexual repression and persecution endured by homosexuals, the groundbreaking advances put forth by a cadre of activists, and the rise of feminism and gay and lesbian liberation decades later.
Get A Copy. Hardcover , s. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please up. To ask other readers questions about Sex Variant Woman , please up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Oct 12, Bookish rated it it was amazing Shelves: inspiring-lives. Looking for queer heroes? Consider the life of subversive librarian Jeannette Howard Foster. As a self-supporting woman at a time when homosexuals were often fired from their jobs, Foster risked her livelihood by self-publishing this cornerstone of Looking for queer heroes?
As a self-supporting woman at a time when homosexuals were often fired from their jobs, Foster risked her livelihood by self-publishing this cornerstone of modern queer studies under her own name in There, she faced down the sexual advances of both Kinsey and his associate Wardell Pomeroy, though both men were fully aware that she preferred women.
But she regained emotional stability with the help of a sympathetic psychoanalyst, and gradually managed to connect with women who could reciprocate her feelings, sexually and emotionally—though she never quite found anyone who could do both in a lasting way. Foster surely had a knack for attaching herself to female teachers who could guide her studies and professional advancement as one of the few U.
Yet in the long run, Foster prevailed in her iconoclastic mission to track down the coded lesbian literature that affirmed her deepest feelings. Living and working in 17 states brought her unprecedented access to lesbian literature in public and private collections from Chicago to Boston to Atlanta, which she cataloged in a single volume for the first time.
Aug 17, Becka rated it really liked it. Brilliant, educated lady that did the most with the life she was given and in her restrictions of the day. Her pursuits, writing and poetry is so good and heart-felt. There is also sadness in how most of her life and loves had to be hidden because of her sexual orientation.
Jeanette Foster A wonderful book about our foremother. Read it! Learn the history of women before stonewall who collected and wrote about the twilight world of lesbians. Feb 16, Elevate Difference rated it really liked it. Sex Variant Woman is just such a biography. Jeannette Howard Foster is just such a person. Born in the late nineteenth century, in an era when women had no political or economic rights to speak of and gay people were deemed either irredeemably sinful or pathologically mentally ill, Foster managed to find no shame in being either a woman or a lesbian. For a woman of her time, this was a tremendous accomplishment.
One of the most influential lesbian scholars of the twentieth century, Foster would spend decades creating her seminal work, Sex Variant Women in Literature, a guide to the lesbian references and characters found in stories told across a variety of cultures and dozens of centuries, the first scholarly work to take lesbianism seriously as a topic. With a commitment bordering on obsession, Foster traveled extensively in her search for material, risking much to find it, and even taking a job or two just for the access they gave her to relevant collections. Throughout her life, Foster would influence and correspond with thousands of lesbians who found themselves reflected in her work and who were inspired by it to broaden the scope of scholarship on the subject of women who love women.
In the intimate details, we find a woman of great humor, tremendous intellectual gifts, and dauntless courage. In the ever-shifting circumstances of her life, we find the constant reminder of all that has been accomplished by Foster and women like her for all women, and lesbians in particular. It is easy to forget, in the days when the religious right looms large, that Foster and her ilk struggled not just against the forces of cultural conservatism, but also against the whole of science and academia to bring the truth to light and to demand the dignity afforded by their human status.
Overall, it is a book worth reading, perhaps more than once. Review by Melinda Barton Jun 13, Nancy rated it it was amazing Shelves: adult-nonfiction , biography , lgbt-books , september , own. Well-known to seventies lesbians seeking visions of themselves in literature, Jeannette Howard Foster's "Sex Variant Women in Literature," was actually the work of a lifetime, originally published in the s. Born in , Jeannette was aware early on of her feelings for other girls, and with the help of psychologist William Sadler, who she consulted in early adulthood, came to accept herself as a lesbian.
Passet details Foster's education, loves often unrequited , her creative writing, the r Well-known to seventies lesbians seeking visions of themselves in literature, Jeannette Howard Foster's "Sex Variant Women in Literature," was actually the work of a lifetime, originally published in the s. Passet details Foster's education, loves often unrequited , her creative writing, the restlessness that took her from college to college, career to career, state to state.
Starting with a degree in science, she taught high school science for a time. She returned to school to get a Master's degree in English and Creative Writing and again turned to high school and college teaching. Despite earning ificantly less money than she had as a college professor, librarianship suited Jeanette, and provided her access to libraries that would be important in building the bibliography that would become "Sex Variant Women in Literature.
Kinsey hired her as a librarian, but micromanaged her work, refusing to let her catalog the library using either the Dewey Decimal system or the Library of Congress system. Ultimately fed up, she left this high paying job. An out and passionate woman who had spent much of her life in urban areas, Jeannette's final years were sadly spent in a tiny Arkansas town where she was forced back into the closet when she went into a nursing home. But her correspondences with many friends and colleagues kept her spirits up, until her former partner, concerned that their secret would be discovered, had all Jeannette's mail delivered to her, and started to withhold much of it.
May 21, Erika Nerdypants rated it really liked it Shelves: 20th-century-women-writers , reading-challenge , feminism , biography , non-fiction , lesbian-writing , gay-lesbian. Very good biography on Jeanette Howard Foster, who wrote the first really comprehensive lesbian history in fiction. I enjoyed learning about her life, but reading about the challenges that lesbians of her generation faced, was eye-opening.
As a contemporary lesbian, whether I decide to come out of the closet is more or less a personal choice. For women of Foster's generation, loving women really was the love that dare not speak its name. Public shunning and humiliation were only relatively minor Very good biography on Jeanette Howard Foster, who wrote the first really comprehensive lesbian history in fiction.
Public shunning and humiliation were only relatively minor consequences of being out, job loss, vandalism of your home and economic discrimination were very real threats for women in the early and mid 20th century. Prior to that, lesbians in "Boston marriages" went frequently unnoticed, because the idea that women had any sexual life of their own was so foreign to society. But once women who loved women began to get noticed, they quickly became feared, ostracized and persecuted. The fact that Foster pursued her book and had it published under her own name, speaks of extraordinary courage considering the political climate in My one quibble with this biography is that it tells very little about her personal relationships with lovers.
We are told who they were and how long the relationships lasted, but very little else. In particular her last ificant relationship remains largely unexplored, and I think that this detracts from the whole picture of her life. Foster was a very private woman and destroyed much of her personal correspondence prior to her move to a nursing home, so this may explain why, but still it left a little bit wanting for me. Otherwise a very readable and enjoyable biography, and due to a day sick in bed I was able to finish it in one sitting. Shelves: biography , lbgt , women-studies.
Wonderful book! Fascinating, well researched. I had the feeling that the author had interviewed Dr. Jeanette Foster in person because the narrative read almost like a conversation all the interviews occurred after Foster's death. I had never heard of Dr. Foster, one of the first women to receive a doctorate in Library Science, and a lifelong Lesbian.
Foster worked with Kinsey at the Sex Institute, and many other places during her long career. Her Sex Variant Women in Literature is a classic work of research. What is even more fascinating to me is that she flourished in the repression of the McCarthy era homophobia, and went on to be instumental in the Lesbian Pride movement of the 60's and 70's, participating in Daughters of Bilitis with Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, and writing for the Ladder. Jun 18, Ann rated it really liked it. This is a well researched biography of a woman born in the early 20th century who meticulously documented references to lesbian women, activity and inclination in history.
Her list of such works was the only source of literature with lesbian content until the 's. A truly brave woman. A woman driven by her own need to find others like her stretching back through the centuries, and then share her knowledge with other women with the same need. She really is one of our heroes. A fascinating read. One thing I would like to ask biographers is: do we really have to go back to great grandparents and grandparents? If so, why? A few summary sentences would suffice. And, if you must go into all this detail, please, please provide me with a genealogy chart so I don't have to remember their names and who they are.
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Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster