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Warm Brothers: Sexuality in the Age of Goethe

Eighteenth-century German literature is scrutinized through the lens of queer theory by Robert Tobin in his new book, Warm Brothers: Queer Theory and the Age of Goethe, published this year by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Queer theory, said Tobin, associate professor of German and associate dean of faculty, is a concept that grew out of gay and lesbian studies but is much more flexible and encompasses all kinds of intermediate types of sexuality. Analyzing the classical literature of Germany in the late 1700s using queer theory involved reading it "against the grain" with an eye toward uncovering the different sexual subcultures that thrived in that time and place.

One of the first books to document male-male desire in 18th-century German literature and culture, Warm Brothers illumi-nates how this period influenced modern conceptualizations of sexuality. Many of the beliefs about sexuality that evolved in the age of Goethe came to the United States with German immigrants, especially those who fled the Nazis in the 1930s, said Tobin.

Written primarily for a scholarly audience, the book began as individual articles and gradually evolved. "I've studied Goethe my whole scholarly life, beginning with writing my dissertation on him. Eventually I began looking at this subject matter and wanting to connect it to issues that were personally relevant to me. Fortunately, there hadn't been a lot done on sexuality with these authors (Goethe and his contemporaries), so I was able to fill that niche."

Tobin hopes to write for a broader audience in his next book, which will look at "sexuality and nationality" in Germany from 1870 to 1930. Germany became a nation in 1871, just two years after the word homosexual appears for the first time in any written language. (Before that time, there really did not exist a vocabulary for sexuality as we know it.) "I want to take off from that point and see if the construction of the German nation is somehow related to the construction of modern categories of sexuality." Tobin studied sexuality and nationality on a Fulbright Fellowship in the spring and summer of 2000.

Across the Great Divide

Collaborative conservation "represents the new face of American conservation," said associate professor of politics Phil Brick.

He is coeditor of a new book that explores that subject, Across the Great Divide, published in December by Island Press. The book gives the reader an overview of collaborative conservation throughout the West.

"What's unusual (and exciting) is that former adversaries such as loggers and environmentalists are sitting down together at the table to try to work out their differences instead of slinging mud at each other in the media and fighting expensive legal battles," said Brick, who teaches international and environmental politics.

Brick coedited the book with Donald Snow, executive director of the Northern Lights Research and Education Institute in Missoula, Montana, and Sarah Van de Wetering, author of four books and editor of the Chronicle of Community.

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