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Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire

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Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most influential texts in gender studies, men's studies and gay studies," this book uncovers the homosocial desire between men, from Restoration comedies to Tennyson's Princess. Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most influential texts in gender studies, men's studies and gay studies," this book uncovers the homosocial desire between men, from Restoration comedies to Tennyson's Princess.


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Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most influential texts in gender studies, men's studies and gay studies," this book uncovers the homosocial desire between men, from Restoration comedies to Tennyson's Princess. Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most influential texts in gender studies, men's studies and gay studies," this book uncovers the homosocial desire between men, from Restoration comedies to Tennyson's Princess.

30 review for Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    My patience for this kind of needlessly convoluted academic writing has worn thin over the years.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This is one of the first books that opened the new theoretical school of queer theory. As such, it made a lot of people mad back in the day and it is still pissing people off today. Sedgwick claims that the patriarchy has been using women to get closer to men. This is where she loses many people. This is where she lost several people in my grad class (you would think a bunch of English majors would read and pay attention). If people would read on they would see that she goes on to say that using This is one of the first books that opened the new theoretical school of queer theory. As such, it made a lot of people mad back in the day and it is still pissing people off today. Sedgwick claims that the patriarchy has been using women to get closer to men. This is where she loses many people. This is where she lost several people in my grad class (you would think a bunch of English majors would read and pay attention). If people would read on they would see that she goes on to say that using women to do that does not make a man gay. It is of making new bonds or strengthening existing ones. It does not mean you do not love the woman you married, but there is still a "bros before ho's" connotation to it. And it is not true of all men, but good grief! If you look around you can see that a lot has not changed since the Middle Ages and that women can still be used as bargaining chips. This makes the patriarchy uncomfortable because homosocial bonding (aka, bros) is all fine and dandy. But the second the homosocial becomes homosexual, everything goes to hell in a hand basket before the offender even knows what happened. This is a very watered-down and condensed summary of Sedgwick's work, and does not do her brilliance justice.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Need to read this again to let it sink in properly, but a couple of my tutors have very much subscribed to Sedgwick's line of thought, in part if not in whole, and it all made a lot of sense to me. It's easy to apply it to the Arthurian legends, or to the 'Sagas of Warrior-Poets' in Norse studies... My perennial problem with literary theory is that people make it sound far too complicated when they write books like this, but this isn't too bad, at least. Need to read this again to let it sink in properly, but a couple of my tutors have very much subscribed to Sedgwick's line of thought, in part if not in whole, and it all made a lot of sense to me. It's easy to apply it to the Arthurian legends, or to the 'Sagas of Warrior-Poets' in Norse studies... My perennial problem with literary theory is that people make it sound far too complicated when they write books like this, but this isn't too bad, at least.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    A comprehensive study, not only of homosexuality in literature, but "homosocial" desire articulated through love triangles which include the female subject within non-canonical texts. I think I've found some inspiration for my thesis ;-) A comprehensive study, not only of homosexuality in literature, but "homosocial" desire articulated through love triangles which include the female subject within non-canonical texts. I think I've found some inspiration for my thesis ;-)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patrik

    This book was obviously written with a real passion, genuine enthusiasm, and good intentions. Also, it was one of the first of its kind, so kudos, I’ll give Kosofsky that. However, the writing style is simply atrocious. As for your possible reaction to the argumentation in the book: it can go either way--you will either accept Kosofsky’s interpretation and like the book, or you will see many of her concepts as farfetched, and remain skeptical.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Holly Interlandi

    The theories presented in this book have affected me so much that I can't help applying them to everything I see and/or read. Highly intriguing, and TRUE. The theories presented in this book have affected me so much that I can't help applying them to everything I see and/or read. Highly intriguing, and TRUE.

  7. 5 out of 5

    yoli

    I shouldn't pretend like I read the whole thing--but this is where the central pivotal idea of my thesis was discovered: triangular structures of power. She says that women are fungible (great word!) and that only the men matter with lots of examples that are less useful if you haven't read the source books. Since I hadn't there was a lot of skimming. But of the 50% I did read, I would say it's pretty good. Start with the introduction and proceed as you feel necessary. Sedgwick has an annoying ha I shouldn't pretend like I read the whole thing--but this is where the central pivotal idea of my thesis was discovered: triangular structures of power. She says that women are fungible (great word!) and that only the men matter with lots of examples that are less useful if you haven't read the source books. Since I hadn't there was a lot of skimming. But of the 50% I did read, I would say it's pretty good. Start with the introduction and proceed as you feel necessary. Sedgwick has an annoying habit of bringing up points and then leaving us to make connections and figure out their significance. Just a heads up, friends.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Luke Widlund

    Its responsibility and accountability is still incredibly relevant. In fact, I would never go as far to think that Sedgwik's typology of homosociality will ever go out of vogue. However, this text does not lend itself to the widest array of usage considering that the author does use incredibly specific (and interesting) examples to explore her concept. The current and future LIT educator in me will totally consider photocopying the intro and some portions of the text to offer students as necessar Its responsibility and accountability is still incredibly relevant. In fact, I would never go as far to think that Sedgwik's typology of homosociality will ever go out of vogue. However, this text does not lend itself to the widest array of usage considering that the author does use incredibly specific (and interesting) examples to explore her concept. The current and future LIT educator in me will totally consider photocopying the intro and some portions of the text to offer students as necessary reading for queer lit theory. The "meat" of this text may not be for the casual reader, especially if they are disinterested in Classical or Victorian white male writing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Taneli Viitahuhta

    Sedgwick's theory of paranoid cognitive model evolves from here to "Touching Feeling". Once you get the grips of her argument, it's hard not to see homosocial desire as shaping the world. This model of relationship leads to paranoid cognition, as lapsing to oscillation between homophobia and homosexual desire is the shunned, or abject, side of this desire. Her way of demonstration is crucial, because for the bourgeois era literature has been the best way to give shape to inner dialogue and consc Sedgwick's theory of paranoid cognitive model evolves from here to "Touching Feeling". Once you get the grips of her argument, it's hard not to see homosocial desire as shaping the world. This model of relationship leads to paranoid cognition, as lapsing to oscillation between homophobia and homosexual desire is the shunned, or abject, side of this desire. Her way of demonstration is crucial, because for the bourgeois era literature has been the best way to give shape to inner dialogue and consciousness of self and the social. Theoretically this book is nearly groundbreaking, rhetorically it is robust. My poor knowledge of 17th and 18th century English literature made it slow read for me. Book to come back to.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Valorie

    I read this and Sedgwick's other book Epistemology of the Closet. Of the two, Epistemology is better. It is a newer book, and it's clear that Sedgwick's ideas are more developed, more considered, and a little more "modern." There are times in Epistemology that Sedgwick refers to Between Men for further reading, but never is it completely necessary to understand the book. While this book is a fine academic work, you're better off reading just Epistemology. I read this and Sedgwick's other book Epistemology of the Closet. Of the two, Epistemology is better. It is a newer book, and it's clear that Sedgwick's ideas are more developed, more considered, and a little more "modern." There are times in Epistemology that Sedgwick refers to Between Men for further reading, but never is it completely necessary to understand the book. While this book is a fine academic work, you're better off reading just Epistemology.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    1. I was drawn to this book mostly because I knew there was a chapter on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and that novel needs a good analysis of the race-sex-class dynamics Dickens used. More generally, it's an interesting book. What I didn't expect, but was pleased to find, was how much time Sedgwick spends writing about the role of women in the texts she chooses. I thought that enriched her analysis, although I do think the book would have benefited from a clearer discussion of the role misogyny p 1. I was drawn to this book mostly because I knew there was a chapter on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and that novel needs a good analysis of the race-sex-class dynamics Dickens used. More generally, it's an interesting book. What I didn't expect, but was pleased to find, was how much time Sedgwick spends writing about the role of women in the texts she chooses. I thought that enriched her analysis, although I do think the book would have benefited from a clearer discussion of the role misogyny plays in these texts. 2. Sadly, I've only read a couple of the texts she uses (although I know a bit about some of the others, and nothing at all about one or two). However, this didn't impede my understanding and I never felt like I should run to Wikipedia to look up a synopsis. Sedgwick lays out the information very clearly. Her actual analysis is something of a vocabulary lesson - but it is always interesting. And, hey, new words are good for you. 3. But was it necessary to bring in Freud?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew White Ellis

    I think what most people find offensive about Sedgwick’s theory is that women exchanged as objects of economic exchange (Patriarchy) is rooted in the desire to strengthen homosocial bonds between men. I find many heterosexual readers of Sedgwick’s work are appalled by this because they assume Sedgwick is calling them gay (spoiler alert, she isn’t). Sedgwick’s theory is a counter argument to your conventional homophobic discourse; that homosexuality is deviant or derivative from heterosexuality. I think what most people find offensive about Sedgwick’s theory is that women exchanged as objects of economic exchange (Patriarchy) is rooted in the desire to strengthen homosocial bonds between men. I find many heterosexual readers of Sedgwick’s work are appalled by this because they assume Sedgwick is calling them gay (spoiler alert, she isn’t). Sedgwick’s theory is a counter argument to your conventional homophobic discourse; that homosexuality is deviant or derivative from heterosexuality. Sedgwick’s theory repositions the homosocial as an essential cultural brick to a very layered wall. I think that what most readers find shocking while reading Between Men is this refocusing on the emphasis of non genital male-to-male relationships (not that these relations never become genital, she notes they have the potential to do so). Overall, this is an incredible work of genius that’s well communicated through extensive literary analysis and historical citing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    sarah

    Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    On missing Frank Kermode: "The graphic schema on which I am going to be drawing most heavily in the readings that follow is the triangle." On missing Frank Kermode: "The graphic schema on which I am going to be drawing most heavily in the readings that follow is the triangle."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    The ideas and arguments here are definitely really important in terms of how men relate to one another--historically, but also today. In particular, the basic argument that male relationships are largely built around sexual desire, repression, and rivalry is a good insight.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Xiao

    男性通過「性主體」這個身分結成同盟,一個男人實現了「主體化」便能獲得認可,反之則被逐出男性集團,而實現「主體化」便是通過「擁有」一個可以讓他支配的女人,讓女性成為性客體來確立自己為性主體。同時,男性集團恐同的原因是因為有可能成為男同性戀的慾望對象而被性客體化。厭女與恐同一體兩面。

  17. 4 out of 5

    Em

    Skimmed more than half of this because I hadn't read some of the texts used to further the argument Skimmed more than half of this because I hadn't read some of the texts used to further the argument

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jared

    Interesting but dense.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    This book was a great place to start reading about gender and queer theory for me. It was at a level that was easily accessible, but did not stay away from definite terms. Her theory of the erotic triangle is very well applied to all the case studies she found throughout the periods. In my opinion, one will even be able to spot the described dynamics in todays gender interaction to a certain extent. Well worth the read!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle

    Sedgwick uses personal narrative in an interesting way in this foundational queer theory text. I found her to be much more accessible than Butler. Sedgwick explores the idea of "homosexual panic" in both Victorian Lit and contemporary court cases. Sedgwick uses personal narrative in an interesting way in this foundational queer theory text. I found her to be much more accessible than Butler. Sedgwick explores the idea of "homosexual panic" in both Victorian Lit and contemporary court cases.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jaykumar B

    on occasions there are flashes of brilliance hidden in nooks and corners of this seminal work, and on occasions, at least for me, the study and analysis seemed a little too forced... however, it is a fabulous work....

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I love Sedgwick's writing. This book is heavily influenced by Gayle Rubin's 1975 essay "The Traffic in Women" and looks at the Gothic. She takes Rubin's theories of power and applies to men. Her discussion of male homosexual panic is especially interesting. Great read. I love Sedgwick's writing. This book is heavily influenced by Gayle Rubin's 1975 essay "The Traffic in Women" and looks at the Gothic. She takes Rubin's theories of power and applies to men. Her discussion of male homosexual panic is especially interesting. Great read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Liz Latty

    Oh Eve.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ginger K

    Very dense reading, but worthwhile

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  26. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lessie Jo

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judith

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hazel

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Campbell

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