A Not So Foreign Affair

Fascism, Sexuality, and the Cultural Rhetoric of American Democracy

A Not So Foreign Affair

Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: 21 b&w photographs Published: May 2001

Author: Andrea Slane

American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Sex and Sexuality, Media Studies > Film

In A Not So Foreign Affair Andrea Slane investigates the influence of images of Nazism on debates about sexuality that are central to contemporary American political rhetoric. By analyzing an array of films, journalism, scholarly theories, melodrama, video, and propaganda literature, Slane describes a common rhetoric that emerged during the 1930s and 1940s as a means of distinguishing “democratic sexuality” from that ascribed to Nazi Germany.
World War II marked a turning point in the cultural rhetoric of democracy, Slane claims, because it intensified a preoccupation with the political role of private life and pushed sexuality to the center of democratic discourse. Having created tremendous anxiety—and fascination—in American culture, Nazism became associated with promiscuity, sexual perversionand the destruction of the family. Slane reveals how this particular imprint of fascism is used in progressive as well as conservative imagery and language to further their domestic agendas and shows how our cultural engagement with Nazism reflects the inherent tension in democracy between the value of diversity, individual freedoms national identity, and notions of the common good. Finally, she applies her analysis of wartime narratives to contemporary texts, examining anti-abortion, anti-gay, and anti-federal rhetoric, as well as the psychic life of skinheads, censorship debates, and the contemporary fascination with incest.
An invaluable resource for understanding the language we use—both visual and narrative—to describe and debate democracy in the United States today, A Not So Foreign Affair will appeal to those interested in cultural studies, film and video studies, American studies, twentieth century history, German studies, rhetoric, and sexuality studies.


A Not So Foreign Affair is filled with perceptive observations about contemporary culture.” — Harvard Sitkoff , History: Reviews of New Books

“Andrea Slane has produced an audacious, well-written analysis of images of fascism in American political culture. The book is attractively laid out and illustrated by photographs demonstrating ways in which Nazism has been interpreted by political groups, artists, filmmakers, and journalists. Slane employs cultural theory, political history, and textual analysis to sustain a compelling argument about the interconnections among sexuality, fascism, and modern political discourses. . . . One cannot help being impressed with the industry and creativity Slane demonstrates in deconstructing texts to support her claims.” — Laura A. Belmonte , Journal of American History

“Slane’s book raises several important questions concerning the public’s understanding and use of the terms fascism and Nazism. . . . A deeper investigation of the cultural creation of the Nazi stereotype is long overdue. Slane has written an interesting book. The subject is worthy of far greater attention, and she is to be commended for broaching it.” — Michael E. Birdwell , American Historical Review

“Slane writes elegantly, clearly, and with a careful rigor out of which come startling observations. A Not So Foreign Affair situates itself within a new and very important field in which contemporary conservatism is given the same kind of sophisticated theoretical treatment as avant-garde work has received in the past.” — Linda Kintz, author of Between Jesus and the Market: The Emotions that Matter in Right-Wing America

“This book had me riveted. With a careful balance of broad theoretical claims, historical specificity, and close textual readings, Slane makes connections across the history of sexuality and its surrounding political and cultural discourses that are indeed impressive. Hers is a subtle and penetrating critique.” — Sharon Willis, author of High Contrast: Race and Gender in Contemporary Hollywood Film


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Associate Professor in the Faculty of Criminology, Justice and Policy Studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustratioins


A Not So Foreign Affair: Introduction

Section One: The Democratic Family

1. Nazi Nationalist Melodrama: Science, Myth, and Paternal Authority in Die Goldene Stadt

2. American Nationalist Melodrama: Tales of Hitler’s Children

3. “Family Values” and Naziana in Contemporary Right-wing Media

Section Two: The Democratic Psyche

4. Nazism, Psychology, and the Making of Democratic Subjects

5. The American Nazi: Cold War Social Problem Films and National Psychobiography

6. Skinheads, Militiamen, and the Legacies of Failed Masculinity

Section Three: Democratic Sex

7. The Iconology of the Sexy Nazi Woman: Marlene Dietrich as Political Palimpsest

8. Sexualized Nazis and Contemporary Popular Political Culture



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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2693-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2684-7
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