Chapter 2 of the book discusses the use of blackface and drag both in stage productions and in film. In this chapter, Somerville uses the story A Florida Enchantment to demonstrate how the the use of cross-dressing both on stage and in film, "evoked contemporary excitement and anxiety over changes in gender norms," (Somerville, 46). In the time that passed between the novel and the production of the film, gender ambiguity and cross-dressing became increasingly associated with "abnormal" sexual practices and homosexuality. The chapter discusses the differences in how the two "mannish" women conduct themselves sexually. Lawrence's white masculinity is portrayed as being within the limits of genteel codes of behavior, while Jack's sexuality is portrayed as uncontrollable and agressive.
The white women who attended these movies also become a topic of discussion. Somerville explains how their attendence was a product of a shifting economy. As the economy shifted to a consumer based economy, in which women were responsible for much of the purchasing, walls between the tradition male and female spheres began to break down. Women were now moving from the domestic sphere into the public, formerly male, sphere.
Chapter 3 focusses on race and homosexuality in Pauline E. Hopkins' fiction. In this section, Somerville explains that, "because African American women were associated with sexual accessability under slavery while white women were priveleged as sexually 'pure,' it was crucial for African American women to begin to redefine their own sexuality," (Somerville, 93). This chapter also discusses how love between women in literature is often difficult to decipher and has come to be labeled "romantic friendship". Almost always, these "romantic friendships" end it heterosexual endings for both female participants.
She also discusses a story of male homoerotic desire, cross-dressing and interracial relationships. Hopkins explores ideas of interracial and homosexual desire as a means of establishing African American female sexual freedom. Importantly, though, Somerville explains that "in stories of impersonation, the exposure of the 'true' identity of a character usually signals a return to the established social order of a fictional world," (104).
One of the most important elements of the conclusion is the focus on black/white, male/female, homo/hetero binaries.
Topics to discuss:
-connections between drag and blackface in terms of performance and identity
-how and why are binaries established? Why are binaries problematic?
-Homosocial vs. homosexual desire
-female movement into the public sphere
-the literary convention of heterosexual resolution