Episode 23: Bury the Hays Code

It’s that time of year again, time for the second annual live episode of History is Gay, live-recorded at TGIFemslash, the convention that birthed our little podcast! Join Leigh, Gretchen, and special guest host Morgan as they discuss the origins of queer censorship in the 20th century. They dive into the Hays Code, lesbian pulp fiction, and briefly discuss Patricia Highsmith, author of The Price of Salt---the lesbian pulp fiction novel from the 1952 that became the 2015 blockbuster Carol. So if you’ve always wondered where some of the worst of today’s tropes for queer women came from, you won’t want to miss this episode. And don’t worry, this story has a happy ending!

A Closer Look at the Hays Code

Production Code Administration (PCA) seal of approval.

Production Code Administration (PCA) seal of approval.

Joseph Breen, one of the founders and head of the PCA from 1934-1954.

Joseph Breen, one of the founders and head of the PCA from 1934-1954.

A Closer Look at Lesbian Pulp Fiction

The Third Way  by Sheldon Lord (1962).

The Third Way by Sheldon Lord (1962).

Odd Girl out  by Ann Bannon (1957), first in the Beebo Brinker Chronicles.

Odd Girl out by Ann Bannon (1957), first in the Beebo Brinker Chronicles.

Twilight Girl  by Della Martin (1961).

Twilight Girl by Della Martin (1961).

Whisper their love  by Valerie Taylor (1957).

Whisper their love by Valerie Taylor (1957).

A Closer Look at Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith at 21 (1942).

Highsmith at 21 (1942).

Highsmith and her cat Ripley (date Unknown).

Highsmith and her cat Ripley (date Unknown).

Highsmith Publicity shot from 1962.

Highsmith Publicity shot from 1962.

Highsmith on “After Dark” (June 1988).

Highsmith on “After Dark” (June 1988).

The Price of Salt  by Claire Morgan, aka Patricia Highsmith (1952).

The Price of Salt by Claire Morgan, aka Patricia Highsmith (1952).

If you want to learn more about the Hays Code, lesbian pulp fiction, and Patricia Highsmith, check out our full list of sources and further reading below!

Online Articles:

Books and Print Articles:

  • The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

  • The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists: Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

  • Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson

  • Media & Culture by Richard Campbell, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos

  • Lesbian Pulp Fiction edited by Katherine V. Forrest

  • "When Girls Will Be Boys: ‘Bad’ Endings and Subversive Middles in Nineteenth-Century Tomboy Narratives and Twentieth-Century Lesbian Pulp Novels” by Mary Elliott, in Legacy, Vol. 15 No. 1

  • “Bury Your Gays: History, Usage, and Context” by Haley Hulan in McNair Scholars Journal Vol. 21

  • “‘Was It Right To Love Her Brother’s Wife So Passionately?’: Lesbian Pulp Novels and U.S. Lesbian Identity, 1950-1965” by Yvonne Keller in American Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 2

  • “Invert History: The Ambivalence of Lesbian Pulp Fiction” by Christopher Nealon in New Literary History, Vol. 31, No. 4

  • “Deviant Classics: Pulps and the Making of Lesbian Print Culture” by Stephanie Foote in Signs, Vol. 31, No. 1

Until next time, stay queer and stay curious!