The Homosexual as Pariah: Thinking about Homosexual Existence in the Context of Evangelical Christianity in the 1960’s

Taylor Cade West, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain


 In the 1960’s some American homosexuals began to speak; they worked to establish a dialogue between themselves and a society from which they were excluded. Evangelical Christians first followed the societal pattern of silence in regards to homosexuality. Later, as the clamor and presence of homosexuals increased, many evangelicals reacted pointedly. The historical coming out of homosexuals and evangelicals’ response, as it is documented in the pages of Christianity Today, serves as a supreme example of the pariah condition that many homosexuals and queer people were experiencing in the 1960s and continue perforce to experience today. It is the purpose of this paper to think about, in the context of evangelical Christianity’s reaction to homosexuality, the homosexual as pariah; to explore the character of a marginal existence.

 It is perplexing to live in a society of which one is not a part (as is the case of queer peoples in so many parts of the world). Where silence reigns, where speaking is a forbidden act, one very often will stumble through the world beclouded by a haze. There is no guide for the perplexed, very seldom does a hand reach through the mist and escort a person to a ground upon which one may speak, one may be. Seldom, if ever, does a whisper break the darkness of one’s insecurity and say, “Go elsewhere. Here you have no place.”

The act of the “Homosexual as Pariah” has not come to a close. Still, well into the twenty-first century, a queer person may be born into a family in the presence of which she may never be herself. A homosexual may live in a society from which he is excluded and at times violently oppressed. And as many gains are being made as far as political and social freedoms in some parts of the world, some states are attempting to restore laws that prevent homosexual activity, the meaning of which is a grotesque violation of the private realm of human beings; and other states have enacted legislation which equates public expression of homosexuality as a kind of “horror-propaganda” against a regime already sunk in a morass of civil rights violations.

Universally speaking, the homosexual—along with all queer peoples—is subject to an imperiled existence and it is in this context of simultaneously expanding and contracting freedom that we must contemplate what it means to be a homosexual or queer person in society. The purpose of this paper does not go beyond an attempt to understand.

In our endeavor to understand, it seems appropriate to fall back on the historical example of evangelical Christianity’s reaction to homosexuals as they began to speak out in 1960s America; through this moment in gay history, we may begin to see the quality of homosexual existence in society. In so doing, we will find that the worldview of those who are members of society is diametrically opposed to the reality of those who find themselves at society’s margins. It will also become clear that the price of assimilation into decent society is nothing less than existence itself. And lastly, we shall attempt to discover a possible alternative that is open to the pariah…Access Full Text of the Article

Smudge on an Illuminated Manuscript: a Postcolonial Reading of Shalimar the Clown

Javaid Bhat, University of Kashmir


This Paper begins with Timothy Brennan’s riposte to Amir Mehmud and Sara Suleri, underlining, simultaneously, the problem of Post colonialism as described by Brennan. His rather hasty definition is used to underscore the different postcolonial propensity in Pachigam, a fictional village created by Salman Rusdie in the novel Shalimar the Clown (henceforth SC). This village is posited as hybrid, fluid, and a space marked by difference. It is a typical but not an unproblematic post colonial space, one which Brennan ignores in his categorical definition of post colonialism. Finally, the essay highlights the essentially ambiguous relationship of Pachigam, a microcosm of Kashmir, with the larger ‘postcolonial’, ‘post-imperial’ entities of India and Pakistan.

Rules of Language in Rules of the House: Study of Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s Tibetan English Poetry

Shelly Bhoil, Research Scholar, Barzil

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The displacement of Tibetans in exile has also displaced the Tibetan language to some extent among the new generation of Tibetans who are born or educated in exile. However, with the new languages and forms of expression in exile, they are negotiating their culture, identity and aspirations. Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, the first Tibetan woman poet in English to be published in the West, is one of the representative voices of New Tibetan Literature in English (NTLE). Her first book of poems Rules of the House was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards in 2003, and brought NTLE to academic attention. This paper is a thematic study of the philosophical and the social aspects of language in the poems from Rules of the House.

Language as Remnant: Survival, Translation and the Poetry of Paul Celan

Dipanjan Maitra, Jadavpur University, Kolkata

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This paper is an attempt to explore the relation between poetry and survival taking as a point of focus the poetry of the post-war European poet Paul Celan. By drawing attention to the French thinker Jacques Derrida’s several influential studies of Celan’s poetry on the problems of “witnessing”,  “testimony” and the “idiomatic” this paper finally examines the Italian thinker Giorgio Agamben’s notion of the “remnant” to understand a poetics of survival.

Towards a Postmodern Poetics: Reading Elizabeth Bishop’s Reccy of Realities

Amit Bhattacharya, University of Gour Banga

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In this paper, I have tried to analyze a few poems by Elizabeth Bishop to show how she takes up or takes in shifting identities and subject-positions in a clear dialogue with cultural norms and expectations. I have also sought to chart her poetic trajectory from alienation to alterity to show how she started by refusing to accept the ‘otherness’ about her and her various poetic personae based on such determinants as gender, sexuality, class or age, and ultimately accepted those self-same counts of ‘otherness’ in a never-ending melee with the ‘so-called’ metareality of conundrum and contingency that is provisionally called ‘life’.

Book Review: Poor-Mouth Jubilee by Michael Chitwood

Publisher: Tupelo Press (October 15, 2010)

Paperback: 72 pages

Price: $16.95

ISBN-10: 1932195890

ISBN-13: 978-1932195897

Review by

Paula Hayes

Strayer University, USA

“True revelation occurs amid distortion”—The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture:  Volume 1:  Religion

Southern poetry occupies an inimitable place in contemporary literature. Michael Chitwood, whose work has gained significant recognition and a wide readership over the last two decades or so, represents a current trend of an increased interest in Southern poetry. His latest collection, Poor-Mouth Jubilee, reaches back to the heart of what can bind a Southern town together—religion—in an effort to explore the meaningfulness and fruitfulness of human relationships.  Chitwood’s usual positions of irony, skepticism, and cynicism toward Christianity are softened, considerably, in Poor-Mouth Jubilee.  Still, the unrelenting quality of obstinacy that characterizes a particular sect of Southern literature from William Faulkner to Flannery O’Connor is ever-present in Poor-Mouth Jubilee. The concept of obstinacy in Southern literature translates into the idea that while it is impossible to overcome suffering through a transcendence of it, nonetheless there can be a repudiation of the belief that suffering is meaningless. Poor-Mouth Jubilee reminds us that meaning can be found in the smallest of appreciations. In the poem, “Now And In Our Time of Need,” Chitwood describes how a flock of crows can remind us of the need for prayerful meditation.

Paradise Lost and the Dream of Other Worlds

Hrileena Ghosh, Jadavpur University

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The doctrine of plural worlds is an ancient concept which received a new lease on life as a result of developments in astronomy in the sixteenth century. In his epic Paradise Lost, John Milton repeatedly references this idea. Milton uses the concept of plural worlds in two distinct forms: at the literal level, he invokes the possibility of plural worlds within the created universe of the poem, and on a more metaphorical level, he invokes the possibility of the existence of several distinct but overlapping worlds. This paper seeks to consider how and why Milton uses this idea in the ways he does.

What is Performance Studies?

Richard Schechner, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

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Because performance studies is so broad-ranging and open to new possibilities, no one can actually grasp its totality or press all its vastness and variety into a single writing book. My points of departure are my own teaching, research, artistic practice, and life experiences.

Performances are actions. As a discipline, performance studies takes actions very seriously in four ways. First, behavior is the “object of study” of performance studies. Although performance studies scholars use the “archive” extensively – what’s in books, photographs, the archaeological record, historical remains, etc. – their dedicated focus is on the “repertory,” namely, what people do in the activity of their doing it. Second, artistic practice is a big part of the performance studies project. A number of performance studies scholars are also practicing artists working in the avant-garde, in community-based performance, and elsewhere; others have mastered a variety of non-Western and Western traditional forms. The relationship between studying performance and doing performance is integral. Third, fieldwork as “participant observation” is a much-prized method adapted from anthropology and put to new uses. In anthropological fieldwork, participant observation is a way of learning about cultures other than that of the field-worker. In anthropology, for the most part, the “home culture” is Western, the “other” non-Western. But in performance studies, the “other” may be a part of one’s own culture (non-Western or Western), or even an aspect of one’s own behavior. That positions the performance studies fieldworker at a Brechtian distance, allowing for criticism, irony, and personal commentary as well as sympathetic participation. In this active way, one performs fieldwork. Taking a critical distance from the objects of study and self invites revision, the recognition that social circumstances– including knowledge itself – are not fixed, but subject to the “rehearsal process” of testing and revising. Fourth, it follows that performance studies is actively involved in social practices and advocacies. Many who practice performance studies do not aspire to ideological neutrality. In fact, a basic theoretical claim is that no approach or position is “neutral”. There is no such thing as unbiased. The challenge is to become as aware as possible of one’s own stances in relation to the positions of others – and then take steps to maintain or change positions.

“Humans as Voices of God and Tradition?” Rethinking the Subjugation of the African Woman in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter

Stephen O. Solanke, Ajayi Crowther University, Nigeria

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Over the eons, man has posed asspeaking for and on behalf of God and Tradition. His assumed positions on social issues, therefore, are regarded as infallibles. Polygamy as one of the issues is advantageous for male. This paper discusses, through a sociological consideration of Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and the effects of polygamy, that a positive consideration be cast on the issue in the modern African world. Women need not be abandoned, children need not be cast aside, and men’s lives need not become loveless as much as the society need not be shackled with frustrated marriages and destroyed lives. The African world, faced with the negative effects laid on the table in this paper, should sociologically re-adjust itself into the modern world of love-giving, acceptance and sharing.

Ritualistic World of Tuluva: a study of Tu?uva Women and the Siri Possession Cult

Yogitha Shetty,University of Hyderabad

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The paper could roughly be divided into two sections: first provides a brief outline of Bh?t?r?dhane or the ritual-performance traditions of the Tulu-speaking region in the coastal region of Karnataka. Second offers an insight into the mass possession cult of Siri, which like the other rituals of Bh?t?r?dhane derive their referential script from the oral tradition of the land. Connected intricately with the Siri epic or p??dana, Siri rituals are performed annually in many places of the coastal region of Karnataka. During these rituals thousands of ‘afflicted’ women gather and get ‘possessed’ by the pantheon of Siri spirits. This paper is an attempt to delve into the emancipatory potential that this platform could offer women who participate every year, first as novices and then as adepts.