Cotton’s Queer Relations : Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936-1968

Michael P. Bibler

Focusing on works by Ernest J. Gaines, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Katherine Anne Porter, Margaret Walker, William Styron, and Arna Bontemps, Bibler shows how each one uses figures of same-sex intimacy to suggest a more progressive alternative to the pervasive inequalities tied historically and symbolically to the South’s most iconic institution. He looks specifically at relationships between white men of the planter class, between plantation mistresses and black maids, and between black men, arguing that while the texts portray the plantation as a rigid hierarchy of differences, these queer relations privilege a notion of sexual sameness that joins the individuals as equals.