Sunday, April 26, 2009

Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture

From Booklist

This small volume contains less than 100 articles on topics in gay and lesbian popular culture. Although there is no precise definition used to establish the term popular culture in the introduction, following John Storey’s definitions in his book Cultural Theory and Popular Culture (Univ. of Georgia, 1998), the articles fall into the area of mass-consumption culture. The entries consist predominately of biographies, with a few articles discussing television shows, movies, and some other forms of entertainment. There are a few British biographical entries, but Americans comprise the largest part of the book. Although author Prono explains his selection criteria in the preface, it is not clear what makes David Leavitt, William Condon, or Agnes Moorehead, who are all the subjects of entries, inherently more important in gay and lesbian popular culture than Jim Grimsley, Ang Lee, or Bette Davis, who are not. Articles are followed by a list of secondary sources. Cross-references will take a browser to another related article. A brief index is also helpful in directing the reader. Most academic libraries will not find the need to purchase the title, as biographical articles can be found in standard titles like Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia (Holt, 1998), Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Histories and Culture (Routledge, 1999), or even The Queer Encyclopedia of Film and Television (Cleis Press, 2006). However, it is a useful and easy-to-use resource for public and high-school libraries. --Steve Stratton

“Whereas most reference works on gay and lesbian figures concentrate on their contributions to politics and literature, independent scholar Prono's work instead examines gay and lesbian contributions to popular culture. His approximately 100 scholarly yet readable cross-referenced A-to-Z entries, each typically ranging from two to four pages in length, cover mostly biography (e.g., Rock Hudson, Tennessee Williams, Melissa Ethridge), though some thematic subjects (e.g., AIDS, the Harlem Renaissance, independent cinema) are also included....Having in one place all these entries emphasizing the subject's relevance to the gay and lesbian community could benefit the student wanting to browse possible research topics. This is also enjoyable to read from cover to cover....Recommended for all school and college libraries.”–Library Journal

“Prono's slim, but thoughtful, collection of essays focuses on well-known American and British individuals whos works, words, and deeds have helped "redefine and shape" contemporary views of gays and lesbians....The writing is engaging and interesting; it is readable and accessible to wide audience....[A] recommended purchase for public or college libraries.”–Reference & User Services Quarterly

“These 97 well-researched, alphabetically arranged entries include profiles of prominent individuals who have concealed or denied their sexual orientation as well as those who have forced open the closet and are fighting for equal rights.”–School Library Journal

“[A] useful and easy-to-use resource for public and high-school libraries.”–Booklist

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