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Lesbian histories and cultures : an encyclopedia /

Other Authors: Zimmerman, Bonnie.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Garland Pub., 2000
Series: Encyclopedia of lesbian and gay histories and cultures ; v. 1
Garland reference library of social science ; v. 1008.
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Review by Choice Review

Garland's "Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures," nothing short of a landmark publication, is organized and written as complementary yet separate volumes that reflect the conceptual, experiential, social, and historical difference of gender. This first volume provides long-needed "full and unbiased attention" to the complex histories and diverse cultures of lesbians as distinct from gay men. The topical coverage ranges from activism, adolescence, and adoption to Zimbabwe and zines, demonstrating careful selection, multiple viewpoints and theoretical perspectives, and notable inclusivity of race, ethnicity and class. Biographical articles, while selective, include both influential deceased and living figures. Written by a remarkably distinguished and diverse group of 300 authors, the alphabetical entries each give a general overview often followed by deeper examination of the topic. Cross-references connect to entries that relate to or expand the topic; each provides a welcome bibliography of the most important and easily accessible titles. A guide to entries by topic allows readers to identify multiple approaches to 26 broader subjects such as cultural identities, economics, media and popular culture, science, sport, theory, and philosophy. The volume richly deserves to reach a wide audience of scholars and students as well as general readers interested in lesbian studies and history. Unusually readable and engaging, the scholarly articles offer an excellent springboard for research while providing delightful browsing opportunities. The commitment to user-friendly and accessible language combined with the impressive range of topics and perspectives underscores this encyclopedia's great value for all libraries. J. Ariel; University of California, Irvine

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Here is proof positive that mainstream reference publishing increasingly recognizes the evolution of gay and lesbian studies. Thumbs up to Haggerty and Zimmerman this title (The Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures) in two volumes is undoubtedly the first relatively thorough reference work that attempts to survey the complex histories and wide cultural diversity of lesbian and gay life. In their introductions, the editors explain why they have chosen to develop separate volumes, edited independently. For this review, the Board has chosen to focus on the work as a whole, rather than on the volumes as separates. The Board feels this reflects the spirit and intent of the work. The editors note that the encyclopedia is not intended to be "truly comprehensive." They have not surveyed every historical period and every region of the world or treated every individual whose life involved same-sex relationships. Only individuals who were the first in their fields or who already have had unquestionable influence and notoriety are included. Each volume consists of alphabetically arranged, signed entries. Each entry is followed by a list of cross-references and includes a bibliography with the most important and easily accessible titles. Subject guides and an index facilitate access. An exceptional group of authors has contributed entries to these volumes, as is evidenced by the treatment of topics. Overall, a broad range of subjects is covered, and readers will find both similarities and differences in the selection and treatment of issues in the two volumes. The editors assert that having separate volumes ensures that lesbian and gay histories and cultures receive full and unbiased attention. However, this two-volume strategy is only partially successful. At times, readers may find the differences in the range of subjects covered in the two volumes to be either perplexing or out-and-out frustrating. For example, those seeking full treatment of a general subject such as psychology, or a more specific topic such as psychological and psychoanalytical perspectives on lesbianism and homosexuality, will need to read entries in both volumes. It is difficult to use the two volumes together, however, because they are not linked by their subject guides, cross-references, or indexes. The subject guides in particular can be confusing: the entry Body image is listed under the heading psychology in Lesbian Histories, but under anthropology in Gay Histories. In some cases, an issue covered in one volume is not treated in the other, necessitating further research elsewhere. These differences can be misleading. Does the fact that only Lesbian Histories has an entry for Relationship violence mean this is no longer a phenomenon or component of gay male culture? Overall, however, the volumes succeed in complementing one another and in beginning to fill a growing need for extended treatment of issues relevant to the histories and cultures of lesbians and gay men. This encyclopedia promises to be of interest to a wide audience, including students and scholars in all fields and the general public who are interested in the state of lesbian and gay research. Noted shortcomings aside, reference librarians in academic and medium-sized and large public libraries will want to add both volumes to their collections.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Zimmerman (women's studies, San Diego State Univ.) and Haggerty (English, Univ. of California, Riverside) have compiled two impressive volumes on gay and lesbian history and culture. The signed articles range from half a page to about six pages and provide at least a minimal bibliography and cross references. There are entries on narrow topics that one would expect, such as Stonewall and Daughters of Bilitis, as well as biographies of both historical and contemporary figures. Unexpected broader topics, such as gentrification and social work, are also featured because they have played a role in gay or lesbian culture and history. Some people and events are hidden within these broader articles, but each volume has a lengthy index. The earlier Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, edited by Wayne Dynes (LJ 1/90), was criticized for not addressing lesbian history adequately, and Zimmerman and Haggerty state that they chose to produce two separate volumes to ensure "that both histories receive full and unbiased attention." Users, however, would have been better served by a single alphabetical arrangement or, at least, a shared index. One who knows nothing about the Mattachine Society, for example, would be forced to check both volumes before finding the relevant information. The editors acknowledge making different choices about content and emphasis, and there is some inconsistency. Thus, there is an entry for contemporary mystery writer Michael Nava but none for Sandra Scoppettone or Katherine Forrest. Overall, however, these are fine scholarly works that belong in the reference section of every library.DDebra Moore, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.