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Communists, Cowboys, and Queers

Communists, Cowboys, and Queers: The Politics of Masculinity in the Work of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams

David Savran
Copyright Date: 1992
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Communists, Cowboys, and Queers
    Book Description:

    During the late 1940’s and 1950’s, argues David Savran, the baiting and brutalization of “communists and queers” were high on the national agenda. Within this historical context, Communist, Cowboys, and Queers offers a bold and radical reassessment of the works of theater’s most prominent and respected figures - Arthur Miller, the alleged communist, and Tennessee Williams, the self-acknowledged “queer.” Savran analyzes the radically different configurations of gender and sexuality in Miller’s and Williams’s writings and studies the ways in which each confronted and negotiated the postwar homophobic and anticommunism crusades. Through a detailed reexamination of their plays, films, and short stories, Savran argues against the popular images of both playwrights and the findings of most academic critics. Ultimately, his provocative exploration of the constitution of the Old Left, the demographic changes following World War II, the gay rights movement, the New Left, and the counterculture distinguishes Communists, Cowboys, and Queers as the first book rigorously to historicize the achievements of Miller and Williams.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8453-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    David Savran
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    When the American National Exhibition opened in Moscow with great fanfare during the summer of 1959, then Vice President Richard Nixon journeyed to the Soviet capital to open the show, bringing the good wishes of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and cutting a symbolic red ribbon. The civility of the occasion, however, was unfortunately sabotaged by a day-long heated debate between Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev over nuclear weapons, foreign military bases, the free exchange of ideas, and the merits of American capitalism, home appliances, and jazz. James Reston described the encounter the next day in theNew York Times...

  5. One Arthur Miller “Why can’t I say ‘I’?”
    (pp. 20-75)

    On the morning of June 21, 1956, in testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Arthur Miller refused to name those with whom he had associated in so-called Communist front groups. Invoking the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and echoing the words of John Proctor fromThe Crucible(1953), Miller declared that while he was willing to be “perfectly frank” about his own activities, he “could not use the name of another person and bring trouble upon him.”¹ Before the mighty committee, Miller freely answered scores of detailed questions about his previous commitment to leftist...

  6. Two Tennessee Williams I “By coming suddenly into a room that I thought was empty”
    (pp. 76-110)

    In “The Mysteries of the Joy Rio,” an early short story (written c. 1941, published 1954), Tennessee Williams creates what is probably his first homosexual protagonist, Pablo Gonzales, a searcher after furtive pleasures in the balcony of the Joy Rio, a derelict movie theater. Mr. Gonzales (as Williams chivalrously calls him) is the owner of a watch repair business bequeathed to him by his late patron and protector, Emiel Kroger, who has additionally passed along to his protégé both his “fleeting and furtive practices in dark places” and his fatal “disease of the bowels.”¹ For this clandestine homosexual—unlike the...

  7. Three Tennessee Williams II “‘Revolutionary’ is a misunderstood word”
    (pp. 111-174)

    One of Tennessee Williams’s most elusive short stories, “Hard Candy” (written 1949-53), which was published in the 1954 collection of the same name, provides an intriguing variation on another story that first appeared in the same volume, “The Mysteries of the Joy Rio” (1941).¹ Like so many Williams texts, the two form a linked pair of variations on a common theme, narrative structure, group of characters, locale, or even mood. Despite the decade or so separating the composition of these two works, however, they are not related as sketch to finished product, or outline to realization, but rather compose a...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 175-198)
  9. Index
    (pp. 199-204)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)