Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Imagining a gay new world: Communities, identities, and the ethics of difference in late twentieth-century America
by Palmer, David, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011, 296; 3477589
Abstract (Summary)

The formation of identity-based communities constitutes one of the most important political trends in late twentieth-century America. It has enabled oppressed people to mobilize politically in effort to demand legal protection, acquire political rights, and achieve social legitimacy. Yet, identity claims have also emerged as critical strategies to either uphold or challenge dominant social conventions and imagine new possibilities for citizenship and everyday living, a feature commonly overlooked in scholarship on social movements and identity politics.

This dissertation draws from newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and nonacademic journals directed at lesbian and gay readers published from the late 1960s through the first half of the 1990s to show how writers grappled with basic human questions of oppression and liberation by asking what it meant to be a sexual minority in American society. In raising these questions, writers reflected on the moral implications of being different and debated questions of consumerism, sexual ethics, and political strategy. These discussions provided readers valuable news and other information. More importantly, they instructed readers of the ethical responsibilities to themselves, other gay people, and the broader American public. In highlighting gayness as the primary marker of shared difference, writers generated new terms of exclusion rooted in class, gender, race, and region. Still, these writers' uses of identity claims gave public character to experiences deemed apolitical or socially negligible. In so doing, they provided critical mediums to potentially challenge dominant social conventions that indirectly affected all marginalized people.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kasson, John F.
Commitee: Brundage, William F., Dowd Hall, Jacquelyn, Howard, John, Sweet, John W.
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: History
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, GLBT Studies
Keywords: Community, Gay, Identity, Lesbian, Sexuality
Publication Number: 3477589
ISBN: 9781124942926
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