Sex Variant Woman by Joanne Passet
The Life of Jeanette Howard Foster

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Joanne Passet

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JOANNE PASSET is Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, American Studies, and Women's Studies, Indiana University.
 
Published June 10, 2008 by Da Capo Press. 387 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Given the repressive climate of the McCarthy period, not even a university press would touch Sex Variant Women in Literature, Foster’s richly detailed, landmark study of more than 300 titles written between 600 BCE and the early 1950s.

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Publishers Weekly

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Passet, a professor of history and author (Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women's Equality), captures both the personal and professional obstacles faced by Jeanette Howard Foster, the foremother of lesbian literature.

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Bookmarks Magazine

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.

Jun 17 2008 | Read Full Review of Sex Variant Woman: The Life o...

Lambda Literary

In the chapter devoted to Foster’s work with Kinsey, Passet provides an overview of Foster’s relationship with Kinsey and some of the challenges in their work together, but the analysis of Foster’s impact on Kinsey’s thinking about lesbians and a critique of his male-centered work is thin.

Jul 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Sex Variant Woman: The Life o...

Windy City Media

In the mid-1970s, I had the privilege of publishing a slim volume of poetry by two of our Chicago foremothers, Jeannette Howard Foster ( 1895-1981 ) and Valerie Taylor ( 1913-1997 ) .

Jul 23 2008 | Read Full Review of Sex Variant Woman: The Life o...

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