In her meticulously researched and engagingly written history of cross-dressed women in American film, the scholar Laura Horak argues that, contrary to popular memory, cross-dressed women were not seen as gender transgressive or protolesbians before the early 1930s. In fact, cross-dressed women and girls were popular and completely untroubling figures in American silent film for more than two decades, in hundreds of films between 1908 and the early 1920s. Through detailed examinations of these films, their critical reception, star discourse surrounding the players, related live performance and media texts, and the social contexts in which these films appeared, Horak revises previous work in film, gender, and gay and lesbian history that has read these early characters as lesbians. She effectively establishes that this understanding...

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