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Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeanette…

Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeanette Howard Foster

by Joanne Passet

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Jeanette Howard Foster was an academic and librarian, born in 1895, who published a groundbreaking book, Sex Variant Women in Literature, in 1956. I found this biography interesting and engaging most of the time. Passet researched her subject thoroughly (there are 68 pages of notes and references), and Foster's personality comes through clearly. One weakness in the writing was that there was a lot of "may have", "must have", and "would have", and some speculation into the motivations of people about whom there is minimal information. Overall, it is a good documentation of the life of a lesbian woman in the early and mid-twentieth century, and explaination of the importance of Foster's book in the social context of the 1950s-70s. ( )
1 vote SylviaC | Nov 25, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786718226, Hardcover)

Jeannette Howard Foster was to lesbianism in the mid-twentieth century what out authors such as Gore Vidal and James Baldwin were to gay men. She unapologetically blew the lid off Cold War sexual repression in 1956 with her Sex Variant Women in Literature-the first-ever study of homosexual, bisexual, and cross-dressing characters appearing in more than 300 works, from ancient times to the present. Joanne Passet’s Sex Variant Woman is a fascinating portrait of Foster, who served as the first librarian at the Kinsey Institute before leaving to publish her controversial book. It is also a riveting look into the pre-Stonewall past, the intense sexual repression and persecution endured by homosexuals, the groundbreaking advances put forth by a cadre of activists, and the rise of feminism and gay and lesbian liberation decades later.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:33 -0400)

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