July 25, 2011

Oscar Wilde and the Narrative of Sexual Identity

Laura I. Appleman, Willamette University College of Law, has published Oscar Wilde's Long Tail: Framing Sexual Identity in the Law at 70 Maryland Law Review 985 (2011). Here is the abstract.

This article argues that narrative has been the hidden link in the intersection between law and sexual identity, shaping and structuring the relationship between the two. The power of the hidden narrative continues to influence legal decisions today, most recently including the national debate on same-sex marriage. I contend that the basis for this complicated relationship began with a few critical 19th-century events, in particular the widely publicized trials of Oscar Wilde for the crime of sodomy. I aim to restore the camouflaged work of narrative to its rightful place in our understanding of sexual identity in the law. In so doing, I hope to not only dissect and expose the complex interrelationships between law, narrative, and sexuality, but also clarify the shifting dynamics of legal sexual identity. This Article asserts that only through recognizing the role of narrative in structuring our legal definition of sexual identity will we ever be able to understand how and why courts are deciding gay rights cases in the way they do.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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