Introduction: Love as the practice of freedom?

William A. Gleason, Eric Murphy Selinger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


In the closing pages of Nell Stark’s Homecoming, college-age heroines Rory and Sarah plan a summer get together in New York City. “Sure you don’t want to go to Ellis Island and up the Statue of Liberty while you’re at it, tourist?” Rory jokes. 1 It’s a throwaway line, but a resonant one. The novel has ferried Sarah from exile—she is cast out of her birth family for being a lesbian—into the welcoming arms of the LGBT community at University of Rhode Island, of the state’s “Vote No” campaign to defeat a ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions, of Aurora “Rory” Song, her Korean-American roommate, and ultimately of Rory’s family, whose declaration, “[Y]ou’re always welcome in our home,” supplies a distant but recognizable echo of the welcome extended to immigrants by the “Mother of Exiles” in New York Harbor: “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me./I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” 2(Homeless at the start of the book, Sarah may not be literally tempest-tossed, but Stark does give her the last name “Storm.”) This interracial queer love story plays variations on enduring American themes of dissidence, community, and the politics of sentiment, and Stark underscores those themes by setting crucial scenes in such evocatively named settings as the couple’s dorm room in “Hutchinson Hall” (a building “named for the dissident Puritan preacher” who’d been “kicked out of her colony,” Sarah notes with approval), in “Roger Williams Dining Hall,” and in “Independence Auditorium,” where Rory uses her documentary film Free Rhode Island to declare her love. 3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRomance Fiction and American Culture
Subtitle of host publicationLove as the Practice of Freedom?
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781134806218
ISBN (Print)9781472431523
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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