Outstanding Academic Titles 2023: LGBTQ+ Studies

Enjoy these five selections from the Choice Reviews 2023 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week we highlight, Outstanding Academic Titles from the past year pertaining to LGBTQ+ Studies. A hearty congratulations to the winning authors, editors and publishers!

1. Drastic dykes and accidental activists: queer women in the urban south
Mims, La Shonda. North Carolina, 2022

There is no one lesbianexperience, just as there is no one humanexperience. Mims (Middle Tennessee State Univ.) confronts this challenge head-on in her parallel histories of “women loving women” in Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC (p. 89). The author deftly interweaves preexisting oral histories with her own primary and secondary research in this highly readable and accessible text. The reader may forget that Mims did not personally conduct all the interviews, an indication of her skill in seamlessly incorporating sources. While including asides on topics such as the “pants panic,” the Joan Little murder trial, and women’s softball leagues, she always returns to the differences between the Atlantan and Charlottean queer women’s experiences (pp. 21–22). Using a narrative structure that shifts focus from individual connectedness to municipal institutions, Mims, a self-described “white lesbian,” incorporates the experiences of women of color without tokenism or, as she writes, by simply adding a “Black chapter” (p. 160). She also skillfully discusses the role of sexism and gay white privilege. This important work sits at the intersection of race, economics, religion, sectionalism, gender, and sexuality. View on Amazon

2. Racism and the making of gay rights: a sexologist, his student, and the empire of queer love
Marhoefer, Laurie. Toronto, 2022

Previous biographers of Magnus Hirschfeld focused intently on the famed sexologist’s work but provided limited insight into his sexual relationship with his young Chinese student, Li Shiu Tong, or their world travels together. Marhoefer’s accessible text reimagines the American, British, and Dutch empires throughout which the pair navigated racism, sexism, bigotry, and imperialism and expands readers’ historical understanding of how and why progressive individuals pandered to white supremacists to achieve social justice during the 1930s. Hirschfeld’s work formed the basis of the ideology that homosexuality was a biological variation rather than a psychological fault to be medically resolved. Marhoefer (Univ. of Washington) aptly navigates her subject with a keen critical lens, deriding Hirschfeld’s ignorance of antiracist work by prominent Black scholars in favor of his position on scientific racism and use of protective whiteness as a German Jew. The book sets out to examine how and why queer individuals such as Hirschfeld who considered themselves white failed to see the dangerous intersection of sexuality and racism, especially when directly confronted with its insidious reality. Most important, Marhoefer’s book examines both men, a daunting methodological task given the destruction of Li’s manuscript in 1993. View on Amazon

3. The transformative potential of LGBTQ+ children’s picture books
Miller, Jennifer. University Press of Mississippi, 2022

Miller (Univ. of Texas, Arlington) examines the relatively recent genesis of children’s picture books exploring LGBTQ+ issues, and examines a variety of such books written to address these issues. The text is organized in seven chapters that address the intersection of LGBTQ+ issues and children’s literature, a genealogy of the early years of children’s LGBTQ+ books, the treatment of LGBTQ+ adults in such books, coverage of “sissy boys” and tomboys, queer and gender-fluid youth, sexuality, and interpretations of LGBTQ+ individuals and events throughout history. There are three appendixes, the first containing the author’s correspondence with pioneer LGBTQ+ author Jane Severance, the second containing correspondence with author Daniel Haak, and the third containing an archive of most LGBTQ+ children’s books published between 1991 and 2018. This is an outstanding resource that could be useful as a reference work but which could also easily serve as a class text. An interesting complement to works such as Rebecca Strickson’s Queerstory: An Infographic History of the Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights (2020) or Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown’s We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation (2019). View on Amazon

4. LGBTQ digital cultures: a global perspective
ed. by Paromita Pain Routledge, 2022

Pain (global media, Univ. of Nevada, Reno) assembles an inspiring, intersectional, and international collection about LGBTQ uses of social media, digital activism, and online community building. Using various methods, contributors explore myriad topics: art-based activism and LGBTQ fandom; LGBTQIA+ student activism in the Philippines; non-Eurocentric understandings of the metaphorical closet; white gay male racism on dating apps; digital testimonials of trans migrants; LGBTQ Iranians’ use of Instagram and queer Indians’ use of Facebook for networking and self-expression; same-sex marriage, hashtag activism, and transgender empowerment in China; successes and failures of corporate queer marketing; trans activism in Turkey; anti-queer biases in TikTok algorithms; the silencing and shame of hypersexuality in LGBTQ communities; the surveillance of sexuality on Grindr in Bangladesh; discourses of nonnormative genders on Instagram; and Canadian LGBTQ2S news coverage on YouTube. Throughout, contributors demonstrate how and why online forms of queer world-making are productive and necessary, especially when LGBTQ+ persons are physically disconnected from one another. A must-have collection for students and scholars of gender and sexuality, this work wholly demonstrates how digital media can serve as a site of queer survival, resistance, representation, and participation. View on Amazon.

5Side affects: on being trans and feeling bad Malatino, Hil. Minnesota, 2022

Following up on his earlier works, Queer Embodiment: Monstrosity, Medical Violence, and Intersex Experience (2019) and Trans Care (2020), Side Affects, Malatino’s third book, examines a complex and nuanced range of negative feelings that transgender people often experience in their lives. Malatino (Pennsylvania State Univ.) observes that feelings such as “fatigue, numbness, envy, rage, burnout” (p. 4) establish an “affective commons” that shapes subjectivities and identities as much as it motivates resistance, intervention, healing, and transformation. Side Affects is a response to popular misunderstandings of trans subjectivity, and more particularly the oversimplification and generalization one might encounter in popular representations of trans experience. Malatino’s argument is firmly grounded in current trans, queer, and feminist theory, while it invokes the methods of poststructural critique and phenomenological interrogation. Malatino contributes substantively to the ongoing research focused on transgender experience within gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, and philosophy. Side Affects will be a crucial resource for students, teachers, and scholars in these fields, though undergraduates may find its theoretical apparatus and jargon somewhat challenging. View on Amazon.

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