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social sciences

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Altman, Dennis (b. 1943)  
page: 1  2  3  

Although he continues to write about and visit the U.S., Altman has lately shifted his focus to Asia. In his autobiography Defying Gravity, Altman recollects the change of consciousness that he has lived through: "the creation of a 'gay nation' and the simultaneous re-imagination of Australia as a multicultural society which for some purposes is part of an equally re-imagined 'Asia'."

In the memoir, he also turns to the question of identity and how it is constantly interrogated: "All of us live with multiple identities. . . . How we imagine these varying and changing identities helps determine how well we manage to live together as a society." In a related vein, he is interested in "the ways in which 'communities' and 'nations' are constantly created and re-created through human imagination" and in "a recognition of the central importance of human agency and imagination in creating new concepts of who we are and in what sort of society we wish to live."

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In Global Sex, Altman investigates how globalization has changed how sex is understood, regulated, even practiced. The exportation of Western sexuality, he argues, has led to greater homogeneity, but at the expense of sexual inequality, exploitation, permissiveness, and, of course, AIDS.

He believes that, though desirable in the U.S., tolerance and difference may not play well in other corners of the world: "Globalization does not abolish difference as much as it redistributes it, so that certain styles and consumer fashions are internationalized while class divides are strengthened, often across national boundaries. The yuppie woman with her portable phone in Kuala Lumpur or São Paulo has more in common with her counterpart in Stuttgart or Minneapolis than do either with the rural or urban poor of their societies."

Altman's most recent book, 51st State?, focuses on Australian identity in a U.S.-dominated world. He fears that Australia has been so Americanized that it is in danger of "fast becoming America's 51st state." The (liberal) tendency to attribute malign American influence to everything we feel uncomfortable about in the contemporary world, Altman suggests, is the downside of seeing the U.S. as the only model worthy of emulation; this trend only conceals the deeper question Australians must face: how does Australia imagine its future?

Nikolai Endres

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In the United States, glbtq people have played an integral and often leading role in AIDS activism, greatly influencing AIDS treatment and advocacy.

social sciences >> Overview:  Australia

Given its history, it is somewhat surprising that Australia now has exceptionally gay-friendly laws and public attitudes, with widespread public tolerance and acceptance of the glbtq community.

literature >> Overview:  Australian and New Zealand Literatures

In the past two decades Australia has come to occupy a leading place in gay and lesbian literature, and New Zealand has recently produced some significant gay and lesbian texts.

social sciences >> Overview:  Cultural Identities

A growing body of scholarly and other work on Cultural Identities challenges the "naturalness," and even the political necessity, of a unitary gay and lesbian identity.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Left

The Gay Left refers to a cluster of positions on the political spectrum that has existed within the lesbian and gay rights movement at least since the Stonewall riots.

literature >> Overview:  Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer

Although gay, lesbian, and queer theory are related practices, the three terms delineate separate emphases marked by different assumptions about the relationship between gender and sexuality.

social sciences >> Overview:  The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980

The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.

literature >> Baldwin, James Arthur

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social sciences >> Freud, Sigmund

The founder of psychoanalysis and the discoverer of the unconscious, Sigmund Freud initiated a fundamental transformation in the self-understanding of Western men and women, including especially the role of sexuality.

literature >> Isherwood, Christopher

A major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement, Christopher Isherwood created gay characters whose homosexuality is a simple given, an integral part of the wholeness of personality and an emblem of their common humanity.

social sciences >> Marcuse, Herbert

German-born philosopher Herbert Marcuse had an enormous influence on theories of sexual liberation, particularly in the early post-Stonewall gay movement and on the left.

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Homosexual themes and motifs are suggested in a number of Manuel Puig's eight novels, and in the best known of them, Kiss of the Spider Woman, homosexual desire is central to the fiction.

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Altman, Dennis. "AIDS and the Reconceptualization of Homosexuality." Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? International Conference on Lesbian and Gay Studies. Dennis Altman, Carole Vance, Martha Vicinus, Jeffrey Weeks, et al., eds. London: GMP Publishers, 1989. 35-48.

Brown, Stephen. "Defying Gravity: An Interview with Dennis Altman on the 30th Anniversary of Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation." Sexualities 3.1 (2000): 97-107.

Dessaix, Robert, ed. Speaking Their Minds: Intellectuals and the Public Culture in Australia. Sydney: ABC Books, 1998. 140-62.

Hurley, Michael. A Guide to Gay and Lesbian Writing in Australia. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin, 1996.

Reeves, Tim. "Altman, Dennis." Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History: From World War II to the Present Day. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds. London: Routledge, 2001. 14-15.

Vidal, Gore. "Preface." The City and the Pillar and Seven Early Stories. New York: Random House, 1995. xi-xx.

Weeks, Jeffrey. "Dennis Altman and the Politics of (Homo)Sexual Liberation." Making Sexual History. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000. 75-85.

Wotherspoon, Garry. 'City of the Plain': History of a Gay Sub-Culture. Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1991.


    Citation Information
    Author: Endres, Nikolai  
    Entry Title: Altman, Dennis  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2007  
    Date Last Updated February 13, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq, Inc.  


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