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The Book of Minor PervertsSexology, Etiology, and the Emergences of Sexuality$
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Benjamin Kahan

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226607818

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226608006.001.0001

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The Walk-In Closet: Situational Homosexuality and the Always of Desire

The Walk-In Closet: Situational Homosexuality and the Always of Desire

Chapter:
(p.26) One The Walk-In Closet: Situational Homosexuality and the Always of Desire
Source:
The Book of Minor Perverts
Author(s):

Benjamin Kahan

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226608006.003.0002

This chapter argues that the early history of homosexuality resembles what might be referred to today as situational homosexuality. A history of situational homosexuality relocates the underpinnings of sexual identity from psychology and desire to the less savory foundations of boredom and starvation and recasts the proximity between homo—and heterosexuality. Because situational homosexuality understands sexuality as behavior rather than psychology, it illuminates the operation of psychopathia sexualis—the psychologization of sexual aberrations—as dependent on an unchanging psychology. This chapter examines Thomas Dickinson’s Winter Bound: A Play in Three Acts and Nine Scenes (1929) and Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour (1934) in order to theorize how object choice is stabilized temporally and geographically in the all-female environments depicted in the plays. These plays think through the clash between congenital and acquired forms of sexuality at the moment that congenitality is becoming increasingly codified and acquisition is becoming a minor perversion. In short, this chapter theorizes a nonsubjective homosexuality: a homosexuality not of persons, but of place—one that circulates like rumor attaching to bodies rather than one that emerges from within them.

Keywords:   situational homosexuality, psychopathia sexualis, sexuality, Thomas Dickinson, The Children's Hour, Winter Bound, congenital, acquired, sexuality, Lillian Hellman

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