Gender and Sexuality Reading List

This is where I, the blogger, ask you, the reader, for your input. I’d like to put together a booklist of works relating to sex and gender. Not non-fiction — that’ll come later — but works of fiction that deal with these issues in interesting and useful ways, the kind of stuff you might assign a class on “Sex and Gender in Literature”. For instance, Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God explores the the way blackness and womanhood shape the lives of both men and women in the rural South, as well as offering at least one avenue towards empowerment (as I recall — it’s been over 15 years since I read it). Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises deals with a particular kind of (Hemingwayian) emasculated masculinuty. What titles would you recommend to someone, and why? What would you put on your imagined syllabus?

PS I’ll ask about movies sometime soon — but given the number of movies based on books, consider something a “book” if you’ve read it, a “movie” if you’ve only watched it.

No comments yet to Gender and Sexuality Reading List

  • Anonymous

    I have three recommendations:

    “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf. The novel deftly weaves its portrayal of gender and sexuality within a historically-minded analysis of social class.

    “Sarah” by JT Leroy brings up issues of gender performativity while still remembering to tell a good story.

    “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy is a fascinating work and could really function as a focal point of any number of discussions of the interstices of gender and politics, economics, race, class, etc. from a non-Western perspective and is exquisitely written.

    Hope this helps!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, _God of Small Things_! That’s a fantastic one — I wonder, when is Roy going toproduce another novel? Not that I begrudge her activism nor her political analysis, but the world could also use another novel like _God of Small Things_!

  • Anonymous

    As a specialist in 18th-century France, I would suggest some selections from Emile by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Also consider anything at all by the Marquis de Sade. He was a vile and contemptible individual (in life he was a rapist and a murderer) but he raised many of the most important questions in modern sex and gender, and he did most this thinking through his fiction.

    Also add to the list George Sand’s Indiana, which is a great book that students seldom read anymore. From the twentieth century, perhaps consider some of the science fiction of James Tiptree, Jr. Notably, Tiptree and Sand share the trait that both were masculine pen names for female authors — an interesting subject in itself.

  • Anonymous

    Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
    The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
    The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
    Alice Munro’s short stories almost always deal with gender

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