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Abstract

In her article "Audience, Sentimental Postmodernism, and Kiss of the Spider Woman" Kimberly Chabot Davis analyzes the three media forms of Kiss of the Spider Woman -- novel, film, and musical -- and their reception by gay, bisexual, and heterosexual fans: Davis reads Kiss as a key example of a hybrid contemporary genre she designates as "sentimental postmodernism." Chabot Davis positions the text's dialogic negotiation between the popular and the postmodern in relation to the critical discourse of camp, as a form of sentimentality-cum-irony. Manuel Puig's novel offers a powerful rebuttal to the Frankfurt School's dismissal of sentimental mass culture as fascist and affirms the importance of emotion to political consciousness. Research with audiences revealed that the affective strategies of Kiss of the Spider Woman helped to galvanize the fans' commitment to left-leaning socio-political critique. Questioning Marxists' overemphasis on the macro-political, Kiss focuses instead on the politics of the personal sphere of identity formation. Although these audiences respect the pull of identity politics, many identified with characters across the boundaries of gender and sexual identity. Chabot Davis argues that the fusion of emotional identification and social critique encouraged by Kiss of the Spider Woman is a central strategy of sentimental postmodernism.

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