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Queering Philip Roth: homosocial discourse in 'An actor’s life for me', 'Letting go', 'Sabbath’s theater' and the 'American trilogy'

Brauner, D. (2015) Queering Philip Roth: homosocial discourse in 'An actor’s life for me', 'Letting go', 'Sabbath’s theater' and the 'American trilogy'. Studies in the Novel, 48 (1). pp. 86-106. ISSN 1934-1512

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1353/sdn.2016.0003


Much has been written on Roth’s representation of masculinity, but this critical discourse has tended to be situated within a heteronormative frame of reference, perhaps because of Roth’s popular reputation as an aggressively heterosexual, libidinous, masculinist, in some versions sexist or even misogynist author. In this essay I argue that Roth’s representation of male sexuality is more complex, ambiguous, and ambivalent than has been generally recognized. Tracing a strong thread of what I call homosocial discourse running through Roth’s oeuvre, I suggest that the series of intimate relationships with other men that many of Roth’s protagonists form are conspicuously couched in this discourse and that a recognition of this ought to reconfigure our sense of the sexual politics of Roth’s career, demonstrating in particular that masculinity in his work is too fluid and dynamic to be accommodated by the conventional binaries of heterosexual and homosexual, feminized Jew and hyper-masculine Gentile, the “ordinary sexual man” and the transgressively desiring male subject.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Identities
ID Code:46066
Publisher:John Hopkins University


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