Contemporary Lesbian Literature

Alderson, D. & Anderson, L. eds., 2000. Territories of Desire in Queer Culture: Refiguring Contemporary Boundaries. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

An excellent collection of essays that brings together notions of the material and metaphorical boundaries of desire, history and culture in contemporary writing, film and theory.

Anderson, L. ed., 1990. Plotting Change: Contemporary Women’s Fiction. London: Edward Arnold.

An important text that explores the way in which contemporary lesbian woman writers seek new and alternate ways to express their sexual identity.

Castle, T., 1993. The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

A compelling text that presents the ‘ghosting’ of the lesbian in literature. Includes discussion on Jeanette Winterson, but also useful for students interested in Sarah Waters.

Doan, L. ed. 1994. The Lesbian Postmodern. New York: Columbia University Press.

A seminal collection of essays that traces the lesbian in relation to literature, culture and gender theory.

Farwell, M. R., 1990. Heterosexual Plots and Lesbian Narratives New York: New York

University Press.

Farwell’s original and highly accessible text examines lesbian writing in relation to narrative theory.

Fuss, D., 1991. Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories/Gay Theories. London: Routledge.

A collection of provocative essays outlining contemporary research in this area. This book contains particularly useful chapters on the lesbian spectre and lesbian authorship.

Griffin, G. ed. 1993. Outwrite: Lesbianism and Popular Culture. London: Pluto Press.

Examines the cultural production and representation of lesbianism in popular culture and contemporary literature.

Haggerty, G. E., & Zimmerman, B. eds., 1995. Professions of Desire: Lesbian and Gay Studies in Literature. New York: The Modern Languages Association of America.

An excellent collection of essays bringing together a range of critical analysis of gay and lesbian studies. This book contains a particularly useful chapter on defining the lesbian canon.

Jay, K. & Glasgow, J. 1980. Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions. New York and London: New York University Press.

Though largely focusing on pre-1970s literature, this text offers useful discussion of issues still current in contemporary lesbian studies and contains a good afterword on lesbian literature in the 1990s.

Munt, S. ed., 1992. New Lesbian Criticism: Literary and Cultural Readings. New York: Columbia University Press.

An important collection that contains scholarship on Sarah Schulman and Jeanette Winterson.

Palmer, P., 1990. “Contemporary Lesbian Feminist Fiction: Texts for Everyone In Anderson, L. ed. Plotting Change: Contemporary Women’s Fiction. London: Edward Arnold, 1990, p. 43-64.

Palmer argues that lesbian fiction is pertinent to the feminist agenda and will appeal to all female readers.

Palmer, P., 1993. Contemporary Lesbian Writing: Dreams, Desire, Difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Palmer’s key text evaluates and contextualises theoretical debates and contemporary lesbian fiction in relation to political and cultural developments. Includes examination of writers such as Sarah Schulman, Jeanette Winterson and Ellen Galford.

Palmer, P., 1999. Lesbian Gothic: Transgressive Fictions. London: Cassell.

A seminal work that explores the manifestations, modes and motifs of the lesbian in Gothic fiction. Includes discussion of Jeanette Winterson, Emma Donoghue, Ellen Galford, Mary Wings and Sarah Schulman.

Smith, P. J. 1997. Lesbian Panic: Homoeroticism in Modern British Women’s Fiction. New York: Columbia University Press.

This book traces the “lesbian panic” – the fear of covert lesbian desire – through consideration of a number of female writers including Muriel Spark and Doris Lessing. Smith reveals how and why this panic is represented and how postmodern lesbian writers have attempted to break away from this narrative

Zimmerman, B., 1990. The Safe Sea of Women: Lesbian Fiction 1969 – 1989 Boston: Beacon Press.

A seminal survey of lesbian fiction depicting the landscape of the literary genre over a thirty-year period. Zimmerman’s text impressively refers to over 270 works of lesbian fiction.