Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety (Penguin social sciences)

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9780140179293: Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety (Penguin social sciences)

"Vested Interests" focuses on the relationship between the aesthetic and the existential, from Shakespeare to Peter Pan and "M. Butterfly", from transsexual surgery and societies for transvestites and transsexuals, to Madonna, Michael Jackson, and even Elvis. Garber establishes that transvestism, far from being a marginal and socially deviant practice, in fact makes culture possible by marking the entrance to the symbolic. Citing the recurrence of transvestite theatre throughout different eras and cultures, Garber views the transvestite as a reiteration of the theatre's underlying problem of representation, because the transvestite acknowledges that every figure on stage is an "impersonator". By examining transvestism's varied social manifestations, the book addresses issues of gender, sexuality, race and class. The argument is illustrated with examples: the sumptuary laws of medieval and early modern Europe, the little-known "transvestite tales" of Mark Twain and the public furore over an art student's portrayal of late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington wearing women's lingerie. This book should be of interest to undergraduates and academics.

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Review:

""Vested Interests is a political and emotional gold mine--beautifully illustrated, and written with wit, style, and with obvious love for the subject. Could you ask for more?."-Kate Bornstein, "Lambda Book Report ." . . erudite and exhilaratingly well-argued . . . her [Garber's] argument is both intricate and persuasive."-Lucy Hughes-Hallett, "The New York Times Book Review

About the Author:

Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard

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