‘The responsibilities of the critic’ f.o. matthiessen's homosexual palimpsest

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12 Scopus citations


F.O. Matthiessen's American Renaissance, a text central to the formation of American Studies as a field, has inspired critical derogation and hagiography based on the extent to which sexuality can be discerned in its pages. largue that these readings do not account for Matthiessen's context of homophobic oppression, thus miss a homosexual double-consciousness that animates the work. Specifically, a resistive form of “passing” which I label “homosexual palimpsest” manifests itself in Matthiessen's exploration of Herman Melville, surreptitiously inscribing the homosexual into American literary and cultural history. Matthiessen's criticism offers insights into homosexual resistance, the critical/rhetorical tension in interpretation, and the practice of gay historical criticism generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-282
Number of pages22
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Criticism
  • F.O. matthiessen
  • Homosexuality
  • Palimpsest
  • Passing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


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