Cold War Femme
Lesbianism, National Identity, and Hollywood Cinema
Duke University Press 2011
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FilmNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network August 4, 2011 Erin Lee Mock
The study of non-heteronormative sexualities in the academy continues to be remarkably dynamic. Despite the usual attempts to harden the frame around this scholarship, it remains consistently exciting and surprising. Robert J. Corber is one of the reasons why. His books In the Name of National Security: Hitchcock, Homophobia, and the Political Construction of Gender in Postwar America (Duke University Press, 1996) and Homosexuality in Cold War America: Resistance and the Crisis of Masculinity (Duke University Press, 1997) are recognized as important contributions to the field. In his new book Cold War Femme: Lesbianism, National Identity, and Hollywood Cinema (Duke University Press, 2011), Corber expands earlier arguments about the places of homophobia in the Cold War to include anxieties about the feminine lesbian. Corber emphasizes the ways in which Hollywood representations aligned with shifting understandings of the lesbian in American political culture, while acknowledging the extent to which the Production Code limited and complicated a full realization of that shift onscreen. In films ranging from Nicholas Ray’s to Hitchcock’s, the collision of new and old models of lesbianism enabled ambivalent and often bizarre portrayals of female desire. At once a companion to and an implicit critique of his earlier work, Corber opens a new and provocative discussion of some of Hollywood’s most famous films and stars.