Professor of English Peter Coviello’s latest book, Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America (NYU Press, 2013), is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in the category of LGBT Studies. Now in its 26th year, the Lambda Literary Awards recognize excellence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing.
In Tomorrow’s Parties, Coviello examines the language and perception of sexuality in the Nineteenth Century, just before the definition of “modern” sexuality as we know it began to take shape, telling its story through the work of authors such as Whitman, Melville, Thoreau, James, Dickinson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, and Mormon founder Joseph Smith.
Dazzling intelligence radiates here, out from sentences giving such pleasure, yielding the finest devotion I’ve seen to literature’s own theoretical force. Coviello listens, carefully, brilliantly, for the flickerings, the liquid meanderings, all too easily explained as ‘sexual’—or never even perceived at all. Here is a critic as joyful as Whitman, with his dark core fully afire.
—Kathryn Bond Stockton, Distinguished Professor of English at University of Utah