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"the very house of difference" Intersection of identities in the life histories of Colorado lesbians, 1940-1965

"the very house of difference" [electronic resource] : Intersection of identities in the life histories of Colorado lesbians, 1940-1965.
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1 online resource (340 p.)
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Access is available to the Yale community
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 56-07, Section: A, page: 2904.
Director: Nancy F. Cott.
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This dissertation examines the life history narratives of women who loved women and were living in Colorado or neighboring states during the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. The study is based on intensive life history interviews with forty women conducted by the author between 1991 and 1993. Working from the assumption that identities are always multiple, the study focuses on ways in which sexual identities intersect with those of gender, race, ethnicity, and class. The dissertation examines the historical development of lesbian identities as they existed in relation to other identities: What did it mean in the 1940s to be middle class, European American, female, lesbian, and butch-identified, living in a small town in rural Wyoming? What did it mean in the 1950s to be working class, Mexican American, female, lesbian, and uneasy with butch and fem identities, living in Denver? These various identities cannot be reckoned individually and then added together; they are lived simultaneously. To what extent did these identities help to constitute one another? In what ways did these identities overlap with and contradict each other, and how were these coincidences and contradictions lived out? How did the intersections of identities shape an individual's sense of community, or her understanding of gender? How did identifying as a lesbian entail renegotiating other identifications? Each chapter of the dissertation is a somewhat autonomous examination of these issues in the life history narrative of a particular woman; chapters focus on gender, sexuality, and rurality in the life of a European American middle-class lesbian; middle-class lesbian identities and cultural spaces; intersections of gender, sexuality, and culture in the life of a Chicana working-class lesbian; and the strategy of "respect" in the life of an African American working-class lesbian. Together, the life histories articulate a conception of identity that is grounded in the historical specificity of material and social conditions, but is, at the same time multiple, fluid, and contingent. The lives of these narrators demonstrate that sexual identities are always gendered, classed, raced, and culturally specific.
Books / Online / Dissertations & Theses
Added to Catalog
July 12, 2011
Thesis note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Yale University, 1995.
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Yale University.

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