The queer man’s mode of embodiment—his gestural and vocal style, his posture and gait, his occupation of space—remembers a political history. To gesture with the elbow held close to the body, to affect a courtly lisp, or to set an arm akimbo with the hand turned back on the hip is to cite a history in which the sovereign body became the effeminate and sodomitical and, finally, the homosexual body. In Queer Articulations, Thomas A. King argues that the Anglo-American queer body publicizes a history of resistance to the gendered terms whereby liberal subjectivities were secured in early modern England.
Arguing that queer agency preceded and enabled the formulation of queer subjectivities, Queer Articulations investigates theatricality and sodomy as performance practices foreclosed in the formation of gendered privacy and consequently available for resistant uses by male-bodied persons who have been positioned, or who have located themselves, outside the universalized public sphere of citizen-subjects. By defining queerness as the lack or failure of private pleasures, rather than an alternative pleasure or substance in its own right, eighteenth-century discourses reconfigured publicness as the mark of difference from the naturalized, private bodies of liberal subjects.
Inviting a performance-centered, interdisciplinary approach to queer/male identities, King develops a model of queerness as processual activity, situated in time and place but irreducible to the individual subject's identifications, desires, and motivations.