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JULY 30

Like many young fields, the still-developing world of gay studies has vomited forth some terrible scholarship amid a few solid historical, literary, and political works. Often the writing isn’t bad, just overblown. To wit: Ira Tattelman writes in a new book of essays, Queers in Space, that gay bathhouses made “new experiences” possible: “When you left, you took those things you had learned from participating in the bathhouse, by communicating with your body, back out into the world.” But what does any of this mean? Surely we take something from every experience—and Tattelman marshals no evidence that bathhouses were somehow more meaningful to their patrons than other institutions. Gay men, he writes later in the essay, “are not static.” Who is static? His attempt to invest meaning into bathhouses is laughably empty, mostly because the essay contains not a single quote from someone who used to frequent them. Bathhouses were bathhouses: Sometimes fun, sometimes depressing, always useful. But not particularly meaningful. Spar with Tattelman at his lecture tonight at 8 p.m. at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. $5. (202) 462-7833. (John Cloud)