Advertisement

Visible Old Lesbians: Suzette Mayr’s The Widows (1998)

  • Linda M. Hess
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, Hess considers Suzette Mayr’s postmodern Canadian novel The Widows as a significant exception to the “hypervisibility” of young, chic, lesbian women during the 1990s. The author explores the novel’s revisionist approach to history via the trope of the “ghosted lesbian,” which she engages to highlight the narrative’s exposure of the label “widow” as one that has historically overwritten and obscured women’s non-normative life courses. Hess argues that The Widows redresses older women’s historical invisibility by centering its narrative on three septuagenarian and octogenarian women who come to insist on their personal agency, sexual desire, and visibility, and by envisioning a lesbian feminist legacy that stands in opposition to heteronormative forms of inheritance and generativity.

References

  1. Allison, Dorothy. (1992) 2012. Bastard Out of Carolina. New York: Plume.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, June. (1975) 1989. Sister Gin. 1975. New York: Feminist Press.Google Scholar
  3. Castle, Terry. 1993. The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Chivers, Sally. 2011. The Silvering Screen: Old Age and Disability in Cinema. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  5. Desert Hearts. 1985. Directed by Donna Deitch. Samuel Goldwyn.Google Scholar
  6. Ellen. 1994–1998. 5 Seasons. Created by Neal Marlens, Carol Black, and David S. Rosenthal. American Broadcasting Company (ABC).Google Scholar
  7. Ellen: Season 4. 1996–1997. Episode 22, “The Puppy Episode.” Directed by Gil Junger. American Broadcasting Company (ABC).Google Scholar
  8. Freeman, Elizabeth. 2010. Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fullmer, Elise, Dena Shenk, and Lynette J. Eastland. 1999. Negating Identity: A Feminist Analysis of the Social Invisibility of Older Lesbians. Journal of Women & Aging 11 (2/3): 131–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Garden, Nancy. 1996. Good Moon Rising. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.Google Scholar
  11. Goldman, Marlene. 2012. DisPossession: Haunting in Canadian Fiction. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Gullette, Margaret. 2011. Agewise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Halberstam, J. Jack. 2005. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Hamer, Diane, and Belinda Budge, eds. 1994. The Good, the Bad and the Gorgeous: Popular Culture’s Romance with Lesbianism. London: Pandora.Google Scholar
  15. Holleran, Andrew. 1996. The Beauty of Men. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  16. Howells, Carol Ann. 2004. Writing by Women. In The Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature, ed. Eva-Marie Kröller, 194–215. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hutcheon, Linda. (1989) 2002. The Politics of Postmodernism. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Krainitzki, Eva. 2011. Exploring the Hypervisbility Paradox: Older Lesbians in Contemporary Mainstream Media (1995–2009). PhD Dissertation, University of Gloucestershire. http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/918
  19. Le Guin, Ursula. (1976) 1989. The Space Crone. In Dancing at the Edge of the World. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  20. Mad About You. 1992–1999. 7 Seasons. Created by Paul Reiser and Danny Jacobson. National Broadcasting Company (NBC).Google Scholar
  21. Maierhofer, Roberta. 2003. Salty Old Women: Frauen, Altern und Identität in der amerikanischen Literatur. Essen: Blaue Eule.Google Scholar
  22. Mayr, Suzette. 1998. The Widows. Edmonton: NeWest.Google Scholar
  23. Myles, Eileen. 1994. Chelsea Girls. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  24. Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2000. s.v. “widow (n.)” Def. 1a and 1d. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://oed.com
  25. Rich, Adrienne. 1980. Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. Signs 5 (4): 631–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Roseanne. 1988–1997. 9 Seasons. Created by Matt Williams. American Broadcasting Company (ABC).Google Scholar
  27. Rule, Jane. 1964. Desert of the Heart. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada.Google Scholar
  28. ———. (1977) 2005. The Young in One Another’s Arms. Vancouver: Arsenal.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 1987. Memory Board. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada.Google Scholar
  30. Shales, Tom. 1997. Ellen’s Night Out. The Washington Post, April 30. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1997/04/30/ellens-night-out/c74599e9-10cb-4eba-a9ee-7415f54f4ceb/?utm_term=.5a82038d8d84. Accessed 3 Aug 2015.
  31. Sontag, Susan. 1972. The Double Standard of Aging. The Saturday Review 55: 29–38.Google Scholar
  32. Steenman-Marcusse, Conny. 2001. Re-writing Pioneer Women in Anglo-Canadian Literature. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  33. Streitmatter, Rodger. 2009. From “Perverts” to “Fab Five”: The Media’s Changing Depiction of Gay Men and Lesbians. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Sturgess, Charlotte. 2003. Suzette Mayr, The Widows: Kanada/Canada, Bridging the Gap. In Redefining the Subject: Sites of Play in Canadian Women’s Writing, 65–88. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  35. Sugars, Cynthia. 2016. The English-Canadian Novel, Counter-Memory and the Claims of History, 1950–2000. In The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature, ed. Cynthia Sugars, 448–470. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taylor, Valerie [Velma Tate]. 1981. Prism. Tallahassee: Naiad.Google Scholar
  37. Thomas, Calvin. 2006. In Foreword to Straight Writ Queer: Non-normative Expressions of Heterosexuality in Literature, ed. Richard Fantina. Jefferson: McFarland.Google Scholar
  38. Tracy, Kathleen. 2005. Ellen: The Real Story of Ellen DeGeneres. New York: Kensington.Google Scholar
  39. Wilson, Jean, and Nicki Thomas. (2008) 2016. Jane Rule. The Canadian Encyclopedia. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/jane-vance-rule/. Accessed. 12 Jan 2018.
  40. Wolf, Doris. 2002. A Past Which Refuses to Become History: Nazism, Niagara Falls, and a New National Identity in Suzette Mayr’s The Widows. Studies in Canadian Literature/Etudes en littérature canadianne 27 (1): 135–156.Google Scholar
  41. Woodward, Kathleen, ed. 1999. Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda M. Hess
    • 1
  1. 1.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

Personalised recommendations