Findings for “sapphic*” in my General Corpus

The term ‘sapphic’, as a way of describing lesbianism, is a rare word in the corpus, and its use is nearly restricted to discussing the fine arts. Interestingly, three of the five articles that use this term are authored by the same person, Anna Kisselgoff, possibly indicating either some sort of idiolect or a topical focus within her writing. See these examples:

  • Maria Calegari, tenderly attended by Jerri Kumery and Helene Alexopoulos, introduces a note of Sapphic lyricism.[1]
  • The ensuing pas de trois, in which Jerri Kumery and Helene Alexopoulos partner and frame Maria Calegari brings to the surface the note of Sapphic love and lyric tenderness that gives “Antique Epigraphs” its special quality.[2]
  • Debussy’s inspiration – sensualism and Sapphic themes in his “Six Epigraphes Antiques,” the myth of the Greek nymph turned into a reed in his flute solo, “Syrinx”- find their counterpart in Mr. Robbins’s ballet.[3]

Kisselgoff is named as the author of 19 New York Times articles, all reviews of ballet or dance shows. None of these articles, however, makes an explicit link to the socio-political situation at hand during the early HIV/ AIDS crisis. All of Kisselgoff’s articles – and all that others that use the word ‘sapphic’, for that matter – remain within the discursive arena of the fine arts and do not use this term to discuss homosexuality in the public sphere.

[1] Kisselgoff, Anna. “Ballet: A Robbins World Premiere.” New York Times 4 Feb. 1984: 1/11. Print.

[2] Kisselgoff, Anna. New York Times 12 Feb. 1984: 2/8. Print.

[3] Kisselgoff, Anna. “Dance: City Ballet Resumes Season.” New York Times 10 Jan. 1985: C/17. Print.

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