Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity

Duke University Press
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On a winter day in 1892, in the broad daylight of downtown Memphis, Tennessee, a middle class woman named Alice Mitchell slashed the throat of her lover, Freda Ward, killing her instantly. Local, national, and international newspapers, medical and scientific publications, and popular fiction writers all clamored to cover the ensuing “girl lovers” murder trial. Lisa Duggan locates in this sensationalized event the emergence of the lesbian in U.S. mass culture and shows how newly “modern” notions of normality and morality that arose from such cases still haunt and distort lesbian and gay politics to the present day.
Situating this story alongside simultaneously circulating lynching narratives (and its resistant versions, such as those of Memphis antilynching activist Ida B. Wells) Duggan reveals how stories of sex and violence were crucial to the development of American modernity. While careful to point out the differences between the public reigns of terror that led to many lynchings and the rarer instances of the murder of one woman by another privately motivated woman, Duggan asserts that dominant versions of both sets of stories contributed to the marginalization of African Americans and women while solidifying a distinctly white, male, heterosexual form of American citizenship. Having explored the role of turn-of-the-century print media—and in particular their tendency toward sensationalism—Duggan moves next to a review of sexology literature and to novels, most notably Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. Sapphic Slashers concludes with two appendices, one of which presents a detailed summary of Ward’s murder, the trial, and Mitchell’s eventual institutionalization. The other presents transcriptions of letters exchanged between the two women prior to the crime.
Combining cultural history, feminist and queer theory, narrative analysis, and compelling storytelling, Sapphic Slashers provides the first history of the emergence of the lesbian in twentieth-century mass culture.

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About the author

Lisa Duggan is Associate Professor of American Studies and History at New York University. She is coauthor of Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture and coeditor of Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and National Interest.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Dec 20, 2000
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Pages
324
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ISBN
9780822381013
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / LGBT Studies / Lesbian Studies
True Crime / Murder / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Do you feel like you’re on a daily treadmill? Are you questioning if this is your lot in life? Do you feel like you never get ahead financially, that you’re struggling to make ends meet? Do you long for some “me” time? Do you know what you'd love to do in life but can't seem to make it happen? Financial Planner Lisa Duggan has seen these problems and frustrations time and again. In It's Your Life Lisa will show you how to take control of your finances, to view money as an enabler, combining your individual values, what makes YOU tick, with your financial decision-making so that you understand the choices you have. This book encourages you to look at your “WHY?” It's Your Life examines in detail: • the benefits to be achieved by taking control of your life and money • common mistakes people make with their money management • the importance of understanding your values and priorities • why you need to know your starting point • building a cheer squad to support you • the importance of commitment to a plan • protecting yourself • choices and tradeoffs we all face • the basics of good financial management. Life is too short and precious, so stop dwelling on what might have been, take a deep breath, look forward to the future and act. Live a life you love! About the Author Lisa Duggan holds a Bachelor of Business (Acc), is a Certified Financial Planner and is the principal financial planner at Epona Financial Guidance. She is a passionate advocate for the value of advice, believing that with the right knowledge and compassionate guidance people can change their lives. She is driven to assist people to take control of their destiny and the roller coaster ride of life, to achieve their dreams....whatever they may be. She practises what she preaches, now only working four days per week, having moved to the country where she enjoys spending time with her partner Bas, Border Collie Molly, horse Cooper and a few hundred sheep.
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