THE WHOLE NAKED TRUTH OF OUR LIVES: LESBIAN-FEMINIST PRINT CULTURE FROM 1969 THROUGH 1989
Enszer, Julie R.
Smith, Martha Nell
Rosenfelt, Deborah S.
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During the 1970s and the 1980s, lesbian-feminists created a vibrant lesbian print culture, participating in the creation, production, and distribution of books, chapbooks, journals, newspapers, and other printed materials. This extraordinary output of creative material provides a rich archive for new insights about the Women's Liberation Movement (WLM), gay liberation (the LGBT movement), and recent U.S. social history. In The Whole Naked Truth of Our Lives, I construct and analyze historical narratives of lesbian-feminist publishers in the United States between 1969 and 1989. Interdisciplinary in its conception, design, and execution, The Whole Naked Truth of Our Lives is the only sustained examination of lesbian print culture during the 1970s and 1980s; it extends the work of Simone Murray on feminist print culture in the United Kingdom as well as the work of literary scholars Kim Whitehead, Kate Adams, Trysh Travis, Bonnie Zimmerman, and Martha Vicinus, and historians Martin Meeker, Marcia Gallo, Rodger Streitmatter, Abe Peck, John McMillian, and Peter Richardson. From archival material, including correspondence, publishing ephemera such as flyers and catalogues, and meeting notes, oral history interviews, and published books, I assemble a history of lesbian-feminist publishing that challenges fundamental ideas about the WLM, gay liberation, and U.S. social history as well as remapping the contours of current historical and literary narratives. In the excitement of the WLM, multiple feminist practices expressed exuberant possibilities for a feminist revolution. Cultural feminism and lesbian separatism were vibrant expressions of the WLM; they were not antagonistic to radical feminism or liberal feminism but rather complementary and overlapping. Economic restructuring in the United States (e.g. globalization, decreasing governmental support for the arts, and neoliberalism) tempered visions for a lesbian-feminist revolution. Lesbian-feminist publishers experienced economic restructuring as it unfolded and actively discussed the political, economic, and theoretical implications. The strategies and responses of lesbian-feminist publishers demonstrate the effects of and resistances to these macro-economic forces. Examining the economics of book publishing explains how literary artists and other creative intellectuals support themselves in capitalist economies, illuminates broader intellectual and cultural currents, and suggests how broader economic trends in the United States interacted with cultural production.