"Strategies of Resistance and Subversion": The Politics and Writing of Jane Rule, 1960s-1980s




Hughes, Christine

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Jane Rule was a lesbian novelist and political commentator, whose debut novel Desert of the Heart represented one of the earliest lesbian romances in North America. The process of publishing both Desert of the Heart and her first work of long-form non-fiction Lesbian Images reveals that Rule saw herself as a Canadian lesbian public figure with a responsibility to her community. Her work for the gay liberationist publication The Body Politic also showed her commitment to gay liberation movements. Despite this literary and political presence, Rule’s life and work have been relatively absent from scholarship on the history of Canadian lesbian and gay communities. This thesis examines Rule’s life and writing as the subject of historical, rather than literary inquiry, in order to locate Rule’s politics within their historical context. Using both archival and oral history sources, this thesis offers a close reading of how Rule’s work engaged with both lesbian feminism and gay liberation, revealing the heterogenous nature of her political perspectives. I argue that Rule’s life and politics offer historians a window into the nuances and complexities of lesbian feminism and gay liberation, as well as insight into her relationship to these movements.



lesbian history, canadian literature, Jane Rule, literary history, lesbian romance