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Donald E. Hall & Annamarie Jagose, eds., The Routledge Queer Studies Reader.

Donald E. Hall & Annamarie Jagose, eds., THE ROUTLEDGE QUEER STUDIES READER. New York: Routledge, 2013. 608p. $135.00, ISBN 978-0415564103; pap., $49.95, ISBN 978-0415564113.

In 1993, Routledge published its original Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. While not the first book to address lesbian and gay identities, cultures, and politics, it was the largest collection of writings from those on the forefront of lesbian and gay studies. This book spoke to me as a budding lesbian who wore an ACT UP t-shirt and worshipped the Indigo Girls, an undergraduate alive during a time when universities developed their first centers and programs for Lesbian and Gay--then eventually Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender--Studies. My university did not offer such courses, so The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, readily available in our university library, became an unofficial "textbook" for me on gay and lesbian visibility and existence, and a call for activism. Today, the classic Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader is a historical document--a snapshot of AIDS, lesbian separatism, gays and lesbians in other cultures, homophobia, gender, and other queer realities as they were identified by academics in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Twenty years later, two well-established queer theorists--American Donald E. Hall and Australian Annamarie Jagose--decided to pay homage to the Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader by compiling a seminal queer studies text for the twenty-first century. The new Routledge Queer Studies Reader contains contemporary writings from veteran queer theorists Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, David M. Halperin (editor of the previous Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader), and Judith Halberstam, but Hall and Jagose also took great pains to include works from up-and-coming queer theorists of color and queer disability theorists. Major focuses of this book include definitions of queer and queer theory, intersecting identities, transgender theory, and heteronormativity--concepts that had not yet solidified into words and action in 1993, but are now part of mainstream academic discourse. If nothing else, the Queer Studies Reader will teach the uninitiated that it is impossible to talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, androgynous, asexual, or gender-queer identities without addressing race, nationality, class, colonialism, and feminism.

Hall and Jagose give editor credit to two doctoral students--American Andrea Bebell and New Zealander Susan Potter--for their masterful organization of The Queer Studies Reader. Bebell and Potter have provided a brief author bio, as well as a summary, before each chapter. The bios note the authors' current positions and major works. The summaries--written in plain English--are incredibly helpful for those who are interested in queer studies but might not have the coursework to understand some of the academic language used by the authors. An improvement over The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader is the detailed index; the chapter titles do not always reveal what the writers intend to discuss. At the same time, Bebell and Potter decided to place the original sources of each chapter in the "Acknowledgments" section, which might confuse some researchers. In spite of that small flaw, The Queer Studies Reader will serve as an official and "unofficial" textbook for those interested in overthrowing the patriarchal gender binary and interrupting heteronormativity.

[Rachel Wexelbaum is a collection management librarian and associate professor at St. Cloud State University. She is a senior editor and book reviewer of, and serves on the Board of Library & Information Resource Advisors for Harrington Park Press.]
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Author:Wexelbaum, Rachel
Publication:Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources
Date:Jun 22, 2013
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