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Anthology Critique Essay History Humanities

Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures: Volume 2

By George Haggerty , 1999

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.

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