Beyond Binaries, Borders, and Boundaries

Mapping the City in John Rechy's City of Night

in Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities
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  • 1 Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway eir-anne.edgar@ntnu.no
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Abstract

This article discusses John Rechy's 1963 novel City of Night and the metaphorical function of the “City.” The sprawling City includes street corners, bars, beaches, movie theaters, and parks. These spaces are public and private, queer and straight. I argue that Rechy's City functions metaphorically—it is the “sexual underground,” with illicit acts conspiratorially narrated by an anonymous hustler—yet, at the same time, the City is also composed of spaces that are inhabited by so-called “average Americans.” Just as his City sprawls beyond officially recognized boundary lines, the novel also illustrates how efforts to demarcate sexuality as either “gay” or “straight” is futile, as are police efforts to differentiate between “legal” and “illegal” activity.

Contributor Notes

Eir-Anne Edgar is Associate Professor of Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. She was previously a faculty member in Liberal Arts at the Interlochen Center for the Arts Academy in Michigan, where she taught English courses for students in Grades 9–12. She is currently at work on two book-length manuscripts, Sexual Fictions: Love, American Literature, and the Law, which analyzes film and novels in tandem with major law cases of the Sexual Revolution, and Speaking the Unspeakable, a look at Trump era dystopian women's fiction and issues of gender, race, and sexuality. Her work can be found in journals such as European Journal of American Studies, English Journal, Sexuality & Culture, and Chronicle of Higher Education. Email: eir-anne.edgar@ntnu.no.

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