Martello tower, photo by Erik Simpson

Lamos, Colleen. "A Faint Glimmer of Lesbianism in Joyce." In Quare Joyce, edited by Joseph Valente, 185–200. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.

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Lamos focuses on the "open secret" of lesbian desire in Ulysses. She foregrounds her discussion by asserting that Joyce had an "ambiguous" relationship to homoeroticism, evidenced by his friendship with many lesbians while writing Ulysses and his reaction to the Oscar Wilde trial. Female sexuality was a topic in emerging contemporary discourses, and Lamos argues that Joyce's representation of female homoeroticism "reveals Joyce's participation in contemporary social, political, medical, and literary discourses concerning lesbianism that were often at odds with each other and issued in divergent understandings of female same-sexuality" (188). She distinguishes between sapphism and lesbianism, constructions that parallel the virgin/whore dichotomy in terms of their threat-level and age-association. Sapphism is not considered threatening because it was seen as a sign of young immaturity that would eventually translate to adult heterosexuality. Female-female relationships became abject lesbianism when women refused relations with men (also implicitly refusing their burden of reproduction) in favor of relations with other women. Bella/o and Molly represent these two constructions of female same-sexuality, respectively. In this schema, Bella/o of "Circe" embodies the abject whore (U 15) while Molly embodies the desirable domestic woman who ultimately complies with compulsory heterosexuality, thus never physically realizing the implications of her sapphish desire for other women. Lamos concludes by reminding the reader that lesbianism is only displayed by "playing on their homophobic abjection" (197). By this, she means that although Joyce succeeds in representing desires incongruent with normative heterosexuality, he must do so through the discourse of abjection, thus revealing the stigma attached to non-normative female sexuality in the early twentieth century.

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