Book Cover

Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic

Sexuality, Literature, Archives

Edited by Debra A. Moddelmog and Martin Joseph Ponce

252 pp. 6 x 9
20 b&w illustrations
Pub Date: February 24, 2017

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, N. American Literature and Literary Studies

Order Hardcover $105.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1333-9
Order Paperback $35.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5397-7
Order PDF Ebook $35.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-7485-9

Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic offers a truly innovative and impressively far-reaching assemblage of criticism and commentary that engages some of the most pressing theoretical problems of our time, including the increasingly apparent inadequacy of the concept of ‘sexual identity’ itself. This is an unusually generative example of interdisciplinary collaboration.” —Colin Johnson, author of Just Queer Folks: Gender and Sexuality in Rural America

“In addressing issues such as the erotics of racial difference, pornography, BDSM, and sexual fantasy, the essays collected here promise to refocus attention on erotic practice. But the volume also recovers an unjustly neglected figure whose life and work have much to offer queer studies scholars.” —Robert Corber, author of Cold War Femme: Lesbianism, National Identity, and Hollywood Cinema

Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic: Sexuality, Literature, Archives examines one of the most fascinating sexual renegades of the twentieth century and the social, cultural, pedagogical, and erotic projects with which he was engaged. This innovative collection, edited by Debra A. Moddelmog and Martin Joseph Ponce, examines the life and work of Samuel Steward at their most daring and controversial. Samuel Steward—writer, literature professor, visual artist, tattoo artist, sexual archivist, unofficial sexologist, and vernacular pornographer—gave voice and vision to some of the central concerns of twentieth-century U.S. gay culture and politics. These essays frame Steward not merely as an associate or a lover of more well-known luminaries but as a significant cultural figure in his own right, one whose work anticipated some of the current aims and methods of queer studies.

With work by prominent scholars in queer, transgender, and sexuality studies, and with topics such as the queer archive, hoarding, masochism, the queer mystery, race and desire, sexology, and gay pornography, Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic will appeal to a wide range of readers across a variety of disciplines invested in queer experience. Closing on a personal recollection from one of Steward’s last close friends, the volume will also appeal to readers interested in the personal aspects of this fascinating, idiosyncratic figure’s multifaceted life.

Debra A. Moddelmog is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. Martin Joseph Ponce is Associate Professor in the Department of English at The Ohio State University.



Martin Joseph Ponce and Debra A. Moddelmog

I. Archives: Indexing, Saving, Hoarding

1     Sam Steward’s Pornography: Archive, Index, Trace
Tim Dean

2     Ungilting the Gold Star Gay
Aren Z. Aizura and Emmett Ramstad

3     On Late-Life Samuel Steward
Scott Herring

II. Writings: Sexology, Mysteries, Essays

4     Samuel Steward’s Autoethnographic Sexology
Debra A. Moddelmog

5     The Mysteries of Samuel Steward and Gertrude Stein, Private Eyes
Karen Leick

6     “Foibles and Fripperies, Reminiscences and Tributes”: Reading Samuel Steward’s Lost Chicago Essays
Jeremy Mulderig

III. Desires: Masochism, Race, Pornography

7     “Queerest of the Queer: Why Samuel Steward’s Masochism Matters
Jennifer Burns Bright

8     “Revisiting Racial Fetishism: Interracial Desire, Revenge, and Atonement in Samuel Steward's Stud
Martin Joseph Ponce

9     “The Law of Pornography: John Rechy and Samuel Steward
Steven Ruszczycky

IV. Recollections

10     “Remembering Sam
Michael Williams


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