"The Man Who Thought Himself a Woman" and Other Queer Nineteenth-Century Short Stories

9780812223668: Paperback
Release Date: 13th January 2017

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 344

Series Q19: The Queer American Nineteenth Century

University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

"The Man Who Thought Himself a Woman" and Other Queer Nineteenth-Century Short Stories

The stories gathered here explore the vagaries of sexual desire, gender identity, and erotic attachment, revealing the surprising queerness of nineteenth-century American literature.

Paperback / £21.99

"Perhaps it is no coincidence that the nineteenth century—the century when, it has been said, sexuality as such (and various taxonomized sexual identities) were invented—is the period when American short stories were invented, and when they were the queerest."—Christopher Looby, from the Introduction

A man in small-town America wears the clothing of his wife and sisters; satisfied at last that he has "a perfect suit of garments appropriate for my sex," he commits suicide, asking only that he be buried dressed as a woman. A country maid has a passionate summer relationship with an heiress, the memory of which sustains her for the next forty years. A girl is carried by a strong wind to a place where she discovers that everything is made of candy, including the "queer people," whom she licks and eats. If these are not the kinds of stories we expect to find in nineteenth-century American literature, it is perhaps because we have been looking in the wrong places.

The stories gathered here are written by a diverse assortment of writers—women and men, obscure and famous: Herman Melville, Willa Cather, and Louisa May Alcott, among others. Exploring the vagaries of gender identity, erotic desire, and affectional attachments that do not map easily onto present categories of sex and gender, they celebrate, mourn, and question the different modes of embodiment and forgotten styles of pleasure of nineteenth-century America.

Christopher Looby is Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of Voicing America: Language, Literary Form, and the Origins of the United States.

"Looby's contribution is nothing short of game-changing . . . [A] scintillating collection of short stories . . . It is hard not to marvel at the range of queer stories Looby has collected here. Almost all somehow trouble the nineteenth century's foundational ideas about gender and domesticity."—GLQ

"A marvelously heterodox collection of American shorter fiction from the long nineteenth century."—Times Literary Supplement