From the earliest marches in 1970 to this month’s events around the Bay Area and the world, Pride has celebrated and commemorated the LGBTQ community’s culture and heritage for over 40 years. While COVID-19 has changed the nature of celebrations this year, UC Press is honored to publish titles that shed light on the unique experiences of LGBTQ individuals and ongoing struggles of the LGBTQ community.
The following list showcases UC Press titles on queer art and music.
Prepare for Saints
Gertrude Stein, Virgil Thomson, and the Mainstreaming of American Modernism
by Steven Watson
Perhaps the oddest and most influential collaboration in the history of American modernism was hatched in 1926, when a young Virgil Thomson knocked on Gertrude Stein’s door in Paris. Eight years later, their opera Four Saints in Three Acts became a sensation–the longest-running opera in Broadway history to date and the most widely reported cultural event of its time. Prepare for Saints is Steven Watson’s brilliant and absorbing account of how that revolutionary opera was born.
Four Saints was proclaimed the birth of a new art form, a cellophane fantasy, “cubism on stage.” It swept the public imagination, inspiring new art and new language, and defied every convention of what an opera should be. Everything about it was revolutionary: Stein’s abstract text and Thomson’s homespun music, the all-black cast, the costumes, and the combustible sets. Moving from the Wadsworth Atheneum to Broadway, Four Saints was the first popular modernist production. It brought modernism, with all its flamboyant outrage against convention, into the mainstream.
This is the story of how that opera came to be. It involves artists, writers, musicians, salon hostesses, and an underwear manufacturer with an appetite for publicity. The opera’s success depended on a handful of Harvard-trained men who shaped America’s first museums of modern art. The elaborately intertwined lives of the collaborators provide a window onto the pioneering generation that defined modern taste in America in the 1920s and 1930s.
Making Differences in the History of American Art
by Tirza True Latimer
What if we ascribe significance to aesthetic and social divergences rather than waving them aside as anomalous? What if we look closely at what does not appear central, or appears peripherally, or does not appear at all, viewing ellipses, outliers, absences, and outtakes as significant? Eccentric Modernisms places queer demands on art history, tracing the relational networks connecting cosmopolitan eccentrics who cultivated discrepant strains of modernism in America during the 1930s and 1940s. Building on the author’s earlier studies of Gertrude Stein and other lesbians who participated in transatlantic cultural exchanges between the world wars, this book moves in a different direction, focusing primarily on the gay men who formed Stein’s support network and whose careers, in turn, she helped to launch, including the neo-romantic painters Pavel Tchelitchew and writer-editor Charles Henri Ford. Eccentric Modernisms shows how these “eccentric modernists” bucked trends by working collectively, reveling in disciplinary promiscuity and sustaining creative affiliations across national and cultural boundaries.
Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music
by Nadine Hubbs
In her provocative new book Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music, Nadine Hubbs looks at how class and gender identity play out in one of America’s most culturally and politically charged forms of popular music. Skillfully weaving historical inquiry with an examination of classed cultural repertoires and close listening to country songs, Hubbs confronts the shifting and deeply entangled workings of taste, sexuality, and class politics.
In Hubbs’s view, the popular phrase “I’ll listen to anything but country” allows middle-class Americans to declare inclusive “omnivore” musical tastes with one crucial exclusion: country, a music linked to low-status whites. Throughout Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music, Hubbs dissects this gesture, examining how provincial white working people have emerged since the 1970s as the face of American bigotry, particularly homophobia, with country music their audible emblem. Bringing together the redneck and the queer, Hubbs challenges the conventional wisdom and historical amnesia that frame white working folk as a perpetual bigot class.