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The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America
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The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America (Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  12 reviews
'The Straight State' is an expansive study of the federal regulation of homosexuality across the US. Margot Canaday uses new evidence to show how the state came to systematically penalise homosexuality, giving rise to a regime of second-class citizenship that dogs sexual minorities to this day.
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 356)
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Sophia
This is a cleverly written book about the history of sexuality in America. I really enjoyed the author's tone and the was she handled many of the difficult issues that are still present today.
Ashley
In The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America Margot Canaday elegantly demonstrates the ways in which an expanding federal bureaucracy both shaped and reacted to the emergence of a homosexual-heterosexual binary. The emergence of this binary came to function as an important method of inclusion and exclusion from the benefits of citizenship. By creating the category of the homosexual, government policies also created the closet. Canaday examines both what the gover ...more
Jennifer
Interesting book about the ways that the development of the American state and the defining of citizenship and homosexuality are linked in the twentieth-century. Canaday uses immigration policy, the military, and welfare to illustrate her point. Interesting conclusion that some states have been much more inclusive with homosexuals than the federal government, unlike during the Civil Rights Movement (race).
Kristi
Canaday argues that changing definitions of homosexuality emerged with the systematic bureaucracy of the federal government. According to Canaday, late nineteenth century understanding of homosexuality as the possession of opposite gender qualities shifted toward the 20th century identification with sexual acts. The author looks closely at federal enforcement of sexual "normalcy" in the realms of welfare, the military, and immigration, with particular attention to how men and women were penalize ...more
Emily
Uniquely organized around two time periods (1900-1940 and 1940-1960) and three areas (immigration, the military, and welfare), Courtenay's first and award winning book draws from court-martials, records from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and congressional and court records to demonstrate how the state defined and attempted to control homosexuality in twentieth century America. While it is commonly argued that homosexuality became more "visible" during and following WWII and targete ...more
Todd Stansbury
Not a bad book, but a little dry.
Sarah Jeanne Lombardo
Remarkably engaging, considering the topic is the consolidation of bureaucratic forces to constrict rights and agency for queer people in, and trying to get in, the US. Some chapters could carry a trigger warning, and much of it is infuriating--but in a highly motivating kinda way. A fine history book, and great for folks interested in how privilege is as institutionalized as oppression.
Hunter
Quite good, and her point is well taken on the need to attend to the welfare and other nonmilitary state in histories, especially histories of social groups. I appreciated that she gave snapshot pictures of the personalities of the (mostly men) who she wrote about. Meticulously cited. A bit dry for a popular book but very well-written for an academic one.
Jennifer
Who would have thought that it was the entity of the state that created and has defined the concept of a homosexual identity?
Dense reading revealing ineffable, discriminatory acts of the U.S. government trying to exclude everyone who is "different" after having created its own catgories ...
Laura
Very interesting read, especially the later chapter on the extensive lesbian witch-hunts in the Cold War-era military.
Jenna
Seems to be very well-researched with excellent primary sources.
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