This book forms an introduction to the rapidly growing field of lesbian studies. Steering a middle course between 'high theory' and detailed textual analysis, it provides both those new to the field and more experienced readers in lesbian/gay and feminist scholarship with original insights into the contradictory meanings of lesbian sexuality in Western culture.
Exploring different cultural forms, including twentieth-century fiction and Hollywood cinema, Hoogland addresses topical theoretical questions concerning the shifting significance of lesbian sexuality as they arise from careful textual analyses. Among the examples discussed are Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, and the Hollywood thriller Basic Instinct. Guiding concerns are the interrelations between knowledge and desire, between sexuality and gender, and the violent operation of heterosexual ideologies. Adopting a psychoanalytical perspective, Hoogland concludes by critically interrogating feminism's ambivalent stakes in female same-sex desire.
Lesbian Configurations is both a valuable introduction to an expanding field and an original contribution to current debates.
Introduction. 1. Defining Differences: The Lavender Menace and The Color Purple. . 2. Basic Instinct: The Lesbian Spectre as Castrating Agent. 3. Impossible Subject Among Multiple Crossovers: Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon. 4. Sex/Textual Conflicts in The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath's Doubling Negatives. 5. Queer Undercurrents: Disruptive Desire in Elizabeth Bowen's Friends and Relations. . 6. Fatal Attractions: Feminist Theory and the Lesbian Lure. Epilogue. Notes. Bibliography. Index.