Notes on Camp (1964) by Susan Sontag is a short book about the definition of camp.
I enjoy the style of this piece. It is lots of short opinions together which are interesting to read, often amusing. There are numerous points I agree with but certain ones I didn’t agree with. It is a short read which you can read in one sitting.
Firstly, I loved how her genuine interest in camp came through very much so. You can tell she didn’t just write the book type of way, she seemed to genuinely be as interested as the reader and I felt she was having a chit chat with the reader over tea or coffee or something. She has great observations in so many ways and lots of references. A lot of research was put in and it was great to see a detailed book about camp especially in the time period. I love how she wrote about the enjoyment people get from camp. A very interesting read.
On the other side I disagreed about how camp is not political or related to social issues. Camp has a very long history in LGBTQAI+ history and has been used by many people in a political or social issues type of way because of that. Camp is also political and social issues-related in it’s challenge to traditional gender roles and high culture. Camp has been instrumental in each of these movements. It hasn’t always been deliberately done, other times has been, other times a mixture of both but it has played a huge part in all three of these movements. I’m not sure, maybe this book was written at a time when a lot of this information was not available. Her stereotyping about Jews and gay people was uncomfortable to read too.
It did feel like the role camp played in LGBTQAI+ history was a brief one which isn’t completely true but possibly in the time the book was written, she may have been restricted in going further into the association with LGBTQAI+ history. That’s all I can think of. But I also liked how she stated camp was for everybody from every background if they enjoy it which I very much believe.
A wonderful read.
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