Lez Liberty Lit #50: Summer Reading Lists

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth was removed from a high school summer reading list in Delaware, allegedly due to complaints about its inappropriate language. At Diversity in YA, Malinda Lo discusses the removal:

“Board president Spencer Brittingham told the reader who wrote to him: ‘I can assure you that I am not homophobic and never did this area of the book enter the conversation.’

Is this really the truth? To me, it sounds like the argument that women aren’t hired (or reviewed, or acknowledge, or heard) not because they’re women, but because they’re not as qualified as men. Is the real issue that these parents have with Cameron Post the fact that she uses the word fuck, or is it easier — and more politically correct these days — to point the finger at the F-word than to acknowledge any discomfort with same-sex relationships?”

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At the New Inquiry, Phoebe Maltz Bovy argues that trigger warnings at the academic level suck because they imply the existence of universal “great books.”

Cover art featuring feminine signifiers marginalizes women’s writing, writes Eugenia Williamson in the Boston Globe: “The implied correlation between feminine imagery and literary inferiority somehow hasn’t stopped publishers seeking wider sales from trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Faber’s 50th anniversary reissue of “The Bell Jar,” for instance, tarted up Sylvia Plath’s classic novel of existential despondency with an illustration of a woman wearing gobs of eyeliner sneering into a compact. Readers new to the book would never suspect its colossal cultural importance or that its author had stuck her head in an oven weeks before its British publication.”

At the Toast, Alison Stine writes about women who make street art.

The Millions has released its second-half-of-2014 book preview, which features words by Roxane Gay, Sarah Waters, Lydia Davis, Emily Gould, Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel and more.

Tablet has compiled an essential queer Jewish reading list.

An interactive map from the New Inquiry charts how often names of American cities have appeared in literary works in the last two centuries.

Bookstore shelving can rescue books.

J.K. Rowling has written about Harry, Ron and Hermione as adults in her Quidditch World Cup coverage as Rita Skeeter.

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Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian reviewed Gender Failure by Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon.

At the Lesbrary, Nicole reviewed Sigil Fire by Erzabet Bishop. Casey reviewed My Education by Susan Choi. Kalyanii reviewed Owl Eyes by Georgie Watts.

At Lambda Literary, Anna Furtado reviewed Nightingale by Andrea Bramhall. Stacey D’Erasmo discussed writing about music and straight people in an interview. Daphne Sidor reviewed Pissing in a River by Lorrie Sprecher. Jackson Nash reviewed Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders by Jacob Anderson-Minshall. Renee James discussed writing a trans crime novel.

Recently, on Autostraddle: Elicia Sanchez wrote about the language of comedy. Maddie wrote about where you journal. Maddie also wrote about how queer students need more representation in textbooks. Mey wrote about her feminist pull list.

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Events To Watch Out For:

August 7, New York: Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color and Lambda Literary are hosting a summer reading series. This event features Kamilah Aisha Moon, Metta Sáma, Amber Atiya, Julia Guez and Elisa Gonzalez at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House (NYU, 58 W 10th St.), 7 p.m.

August 14, New York: Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color and Lambda Literary are hosting a summer reading series. This event features Franny Choi, Joseph Legaspi, Jackie Wang, Paul Tran and Ocean Vuong at the Audre Lorde Project (147 W 24th St., 3rd floor), 7 p.m.

August 21, New York: Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color and Lambda Literary are hosting a summer reading series. This event features Eduardo C Corral, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Denice Frohman and Roberto Montes at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House (NYU, 58 W 10th St.), 7 p.m.

Now to 24 August, Toronto: The Ryerson Image Centre is presenting What It Means To Be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility, on queer media portrayals, curated by Sophie Hackett (main gallery, 33 Gould St.).

Know of a queer event with literary merit? Send it to us! The Liberty Lit is bi-weekly.

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What We’re Reading:

Carolyn: I read Cat Person by Seo Kim and On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin. A few weeks ago I went to a truly excellent used bookstore, and so many of the next things I read are going to be trashy sex guides from the early 90s, but I’m also excited to find and likely devour a copy of Edan Lepucki’s California: A Novel.

Rachel: I just started Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger by Kelly J. Cogswell!


Books! They are really great. You just won’t believe how great they are. You may think that the Internet’s great, but that’s just peanuts compared to books. In Lez Liberty Lit, we talk about literary shit that’s happening that you should probably care about.

The name “Liberty Lit” was inspired by the short-lived literary journal produced by Angela Chase at Liberty High School in 1994.

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Carolyn is the NSFW Editor for Autostraddle.com. She is also a freelance copy editor and writer, and her work has appeared in Bitch, The Toast, Xtra!, Jezebel, and other places. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 418 articles for us.

9 Comments

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    i read the article on trigger warnings, and it was very interesting–but am i the only one who finds it a little funny that in all these “debates” about trigger warnings don’t really talk about PTSD and ableism? I’ve read like three or four different articles on trigger warnings in the last day (including jack halberstam’s bullshit manifesto) but nobody really talks about PTSD or what the medical definition of a trigger is? i mean, as someone who is disabled and is mentally ill i’m not really surprised that everyone’s making it about something else, but it would be nice to find one piece that talks about the ableism in this whole debate??? if anyone knows one, i would love it if you sent me a link!

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      I’ve read that one too.

      It seems like people confuse being triggered with being offended. (Not my first time encountering this problem.) Being triggered is nothing like that. Being triggered is being reduced to a shaking, shivering mess. Being triggered is having incredibly vivid dreams with all the noises, the smells; all of them horror movie worthy nightmares. Being triggered is not knowing what is real and what happened only in your nightmares. Being triggered is re-living the same event over and over.

      I only got triggered really bad once, it lasted for four days. Normally it lasts only for a few hours to a day.

      I finally made a comment! \o/

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        woo first comment, yay! :3 :3 :3

        your description of being triggered really resonates with my experience. but people, educated COLLEGE professors, still seem to think being triggered has something to do with being offended or being “politically correct” and that scares the shit out of me because these people are supposedly some of the top academics in their fields but they still don’t get how this is ableism?

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    I really enjoyed the article on shelving. Sometimes as a reader I feel like that too…like I want to support all the struggling up-and-coming writers trying to get noticed, but I neither have the money nor time.

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    That trigger warning article was a mess. I feel like so many of these articles don’t understand the purpose of trigger warnings. They aren’t just to warn you not to read that book if you are triggered by it (or offended by it–also not the same), but also so that you are better prepared to handle the content. Being blindsided by a rape scene is different than reading a book knowing that is going to come up. I fail to see how having trigger warnings for books assigned is that unreasonable. Obviously there are different triggers for different people, and you may not be able to accommodate every one, but is it really so hard to note that some books include extreme racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, etc? I fail to see how it’s an unreasonable request. If a prof doesn’t know that about a book, I don’t see how they should be teaching it? Obviously this is something that would improve with time, and it would be trial and error (students pointing out triggers the prof had missed), but I also think it would be a healthier learning environment and as a bonus would foster more discussion about topics often glossed over.

    What I find gross about these articles is the underlying assumption that it’s just unreasonable to accommodate people with PTSD, and other people who get triggered. That people who could be sent into a spiral of panic should, what, not go to school? Because English classes should just be accepted to be unsafe places? Or should you just have to accept these debilitating episodes as part of school? That reading “great literature” should be its nature cause you to hyperventilate?

    But these articles never actually address people who need trigger warnings. They never address who is affected by NOT having trigger warnings.

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