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date: 01 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys a range of fictional texts by both white and black writers from the antebellum South. Seeking to initiate a wider investigation of same-sex relations in the region, it maps the depictions of white male desires and homoerotic intimacies in narratives of sympathy, friendship, courtship, mastery, and sexual exploitation. The chapter shows how male writers infuse homoerotic sentimentality into certain forms of homosociality, including loyalties across the color line, to consolidate male power. And, it shows how women writers also foreground male homoerotic relations, but for the opposite purpose of exposing the dangers and policing the limits of white men’s power and white men’s desires—including desires for white and black women. Altogether, these texts demonstrate that a clear validation of male homoeroticism was central, not oppositional, to the constructions of masculine intimacy during this time.

Keywords: antebellum, southern, queerness, sentiment, fetish, honor, Gothic, race, homoeroticism, women writers

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