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Reference Book of the Week: The Dictionary of Homophobia

Welcome to this week's edition of Reference Book of the Week at The Patriot Spot. June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Let me take a moment to remind readers to please visit our display in the library, which can be viewed throughout the month of June in the third floor. In honor of the observance, we are featuring a work of LGBT History. Our reference book this week is The Dictionary of Homophobia: A Global History of Gay and Lesbian Experience by Louis-Georges Tin. Professor Tin has published several books on sexuality and works at the University of Orleans in France. Professor Tin is also an activist recognized for his work by several humanitarian awards. Originally published in France in 2003 as Dictionnaire de l'homophobie, this work is now available in an English translation. The original edition, though in French, received excellent reviews from various countries including Japan, Italy, Brazil and the United States. In fact, in 2003, the Lambda Book Report in its April 2003 issue reviewed the French edition, reaching the following conclusion: "But the book's international scope and acuity make it an invaluable addition to the bookshelf of every reader of French, until some smart American press decides to have it translated." Well, actually, Marek Redburn, a resident of Montreal completed the translation in 2008, which was published by Canadian publishing house Arsenal Pulp Press. The Dictionary of Homophobia is the result of "the work of seventy-six esteemed researchers in fifteen countries, the goal of which was to document the social, political, medical, legal, and criminal treatment of homosexuals throughout history to present-day" (from the Publisher's Note). The volume includes over 160 entries covering various aspects of gay rights and homophobia. While the book was originally published in French, it does provide excellent coverage of LGBT issues around the world. I do mention the French origin because some of the essays in the book do have a specific focus on French persons, events, and circumstances. The book is designed to provide an overview of the problematics associated with homophobia. Articles in the book are arranged in alphabetical order, and they fall within these broad categories. Here are some examples of topics:
  • Theory: communism, feminism, multiculturalism, otherness.
  • History: Ancient Greece, ghetto.
  • Countries and regions: the Balkans, Japan, Portugal, North America (including the United States).
  • Environments and institutions: workplace, family, marriage, military.
  • Rhetorical themes: rhetoric, censorship.
This is a very accessible work with features that are useful to readers. For instance, all entries include keywords at the end. Keywords can be useful because they provide ideas for further research on a topic. You could read an article in this book, make a note of some keywords, then type them into a research database to find further information on your topic. In addition, when you see a word in bold in an article, it means that word or concept has its own entry in the dictionary. I will end quoting from the review I linked above, "leave it to the French to offer us some timely information about homophobia -- what it is, where it comes from and how to think about it." That, in essence, is that what this book does: it looks at the experience of homophobia around the world and provides a tool of education and research.
Published by root on 23 Jun

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