Publication Details

Davidson, G. R. 2011, ''The closet of the third person'; Susan Sontag, sexual dissidence, and celebrity', Life Writing: Exploring the Contemporary Meanings of Life Narrative, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 387-397.


In this essay I argue that the tension between Susan Sontag's status as a postmodern celebrity and her devotion to the modernist cult of impersonality may be productively related to her sexuality. Beginning with her famous essay ‘Notes of Camp’ (1964), Sontag aligned herself (somewhat uneasily) with metropolitan gay culture. On the other hand, Sontag was one of the most famous undeclared lesbians in recent history. While she largely eschewed life writing, her fiction, essays, and interviews have often been read by critics for their autobiographical resonances. I extend this critical tendency by attending to the articulation and elision of what Jonathan Dollimore calls sexual dissidence in Sontag's writing. I also reflect on the difference the publication of the first of a series of three projected volumes of her journals makes to our ideas about Sontag and sexuality.



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