Contributors. Lauren Berlant, Leo Bersani, Michael Cobb, Ann Cvetkovich, Lee Edelman, Richard Thompson Ford, Carla Freccero, Elizabeth Freeman, Jonathan Goldberg, Janet Halley, Neville Hoad, Joseph Litvak, Heather Love, Michael Lucey, Michael Moon, José Esteban Muñoz, Jeff Nunokawa, Andrew Parker, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Richard Rambuss, Erica Rand, Bethany Schneider, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Kate Thomas
Stockton engages the domains of African American studies, queer theory, psychoanalysis, film theory, photography, semiotics, and gender studies. She brings together thinkers rarely, if ever, read together in a single study—James Baldwin, Radclyffe Hall, Jean Genet, Toni Morrison, Robert Mapplethorpe, Eldridge Cleaver, Todd Haynes, Norman Mailer, Leslie Feinberg, David Fincher, and Quentin Tarantino—and reads them with and against major theorists, including Georges Bataille, Sigmund Freud, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, and Leo Bersani. Stockton asserts that there is no clear, mirrored relation between the terms “black” and “queer”; rather, seemingly definitive associations attached to each are often taken up or crossed through by the other. Stockton explores dramatic switchpoints between these terms: the stigmatized “skin” of some queers’ clothes, the description of blacks as an “economic bottom,” the visual force of interracial homosexual rape, the complicated logic of so-called same-sex miscegenation, and the ways in which a famous depiction of slavery (namely, Morrison’s Beloved) seems bound up with depictions of AIDS. All of the thinkers Stockton considers scrutinize the social nature of shame as they examine the structures that make debasements possible, bearable, pleasurable, and creative, even in their darkness.
Within twelve years of the first appearance of Leaves of Grass in 1855, Walt Whitman produced three other editions of what he insisted were the “same” work; two more followed later in his life. Rather than asking which of these editions is best, Michael Moon, in Disseminating Whitman, argues that the very existence of distinct versions of the text raises essential questions about it. Interpreting “revision” more profoundly than earlier Whitman critics have done, while treating the poet’s homosexuality as a cultural and political fact rather than merely as a biographical datum, Moon shows how Whitman’s continual modifications of his work intersect with the representations of male-male desire throughout his writing. What is subjected to endless revision throughout the first four editions of Leaves of Grass, Moon argues, is a historically specific set of political principles governing how the human body—Whitman’s avowed subject—was conceptualized and controlled in mid-nineteenth-century America.
Moon interprets Whitman’s project as one that continually engages in such divergent contemporaneous discourse of the body as the anti-onanist ones of the “male-purity” movement, anti-slaver writing, “temperance” tracts, and guides to conduct for the aspiring “self-made man.” Critically applying various interpretive models from psychoanalysis, literary and cultural theory, and gender studies, and heeding recurring patterns of language and figure, Moon provides rigorous intertextual readings of Whitman’s canon. Ingeniously employing “The Child’s Champion” as a paradigm, Moon scrutinizes such celebrated poems as “Song of Myself” and the great Civil War elegies, as well as such commonly overlooked poems as “Song of the Broad-Axe” and “Song of the Banner at Daybreak.”
Disseminating Whitman reveals as no previous study has done the poet’s fervent engagement with the most highly charged political questions of his day—questions of defining and regulating whole ranges of experiences and desires that remain the subject of intense political conflict in our own time. This radical reassessment of the “good gray” poet makes a definitive contribution to critical work in American history and literature, poetry, and gender studies.
Eribon describes the emergence of homosexual literature in Britain and France at the turn of the last century and traces this new gay discourse from Oscar Wilde and the literary circles of late-Victorian Oxford to André Gide and Marcel Proust. He asserts that Foucault should be placed in a long line of authors—including Wilde, Gide, and Proust—who from the nineteenth century onward have tried to create spaces in which to resist subjection and reformulate oneself. Drawing on his unrivaled knowledge of Foucault’s oeuvre, Eribon presents a masterful new interpretation of Foucault. He calls attention to a particular passage from Madness and Civilization that has never been translated into English. Written some fifteen years before The History of Sexuality, this passage seems to contradict Foucault’s famous idea that homosexuality was a late-nineteenth-century construction. Including an argument for the use of Hannah Arendt’s thought in gay rights advocacy, Insult and the Making of the Gay Self is an impassioned call for critical, active engagement with the question of how gay life is shaped both from without and within.
Kent not only analyzes how texts represent queer erotics, but also theorizes how texts might produce them in readers. She describes the ways postbellum sentimental literature such as that written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott, and Emma D. Kelley eroticizes, reacts against, and even, in its own efforts to shape girls’ selves, contributes to the production of queer female identifications and identities. Tracing how these identifications are engaged and critiqued in the early twentieth century, she considers works by Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Elizabeth Bishop, as well as in the queer subject-forming effects of another modern invention, the Girl Scouts. Making Girls into Women ultimately reveals that modern lesbian identity marks an extension of, rather than a break from, nineteenth-century women’s culture.
The Misfit of the Family is a compelling argument that Balzac must be taken seriously as a major inventor and purveyor of new tools for analyzing connections between the sexual and the social. Lucey’s account of the novelist’s deployment of "sexual misfits" to impel a wide range of his most canonical works—Cousin Pons, Cousin Bette, Eugenie Grandet, Lost Illusions, The Girl with the Golden Eyes—demonstrates how even the flexible umbrella term "queer" barely covers the enormous diversity of erotic and social behaviors of his characters. Lucey draws on the thinking of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu and engages the work of critics of nineteenth-century French fiction, including Naomi Schor, D. A. Miller, Franco Moretti, and others. His reflections on Proust as Balzac’s most cannily attentive reader suggest how the lines of social and erotic force he locates in Balzac’s work continued to manifest themselves in twentieth-century writing and society.
Considering novels along with journalism, theatrical performances, correspondences, and face-to-face encounters, Lucey focuses on the interlocking social and formal dimensions of using the first person. He argues for understanding the first person not just as a grammatical category but also as a collectively produced social artifact, demonstrating that Proust’s, Gide’s, and Colette’s use of the first person involved a social process of assuming the authority to speak about certain issues, or on behalf of certain people. Lucey reveals these three writers as both practitioners and theorists of the first person; he traces how, when they figured themselves or other first persons in certain statements regarding same-sex identity, they self-consciously called attention to the creative effort involved in doing so.
Closely engaging with literary texts, Edelman makes a compelling case for imagining Scrooge without Tiny Tim and Silas Marner without little Eppie. Looking to Alfred Hitchcock’s films, he embraces two of the director’s most notorious creations: the sadistic Leonard of North by Northwest, who steps on the hand that holds the couple precariously above the abyss, and the terrifying title figures of The Birds, with their predilection for children. Edelman enlarges the reach of contemporary psychoanalytic theory as he brings it to bear not only on works of literature and film but also on such current political flashpoints as gay marriage and gay parenting. Throwing down the theoretical gauntlet, No Future reimagines queerness with a passion certain to spark an equally impassioned debate among its readers.
Contributors. Stephen Barber, Renu Bora, Anne Chandler, James Creech, Tyler Curtain, Jonathan Goldberg, Joseph Litvak, Michael Lucey, Jeff Nunokawa, Cindy Patton, Jacob Press, Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Melissa Solomon, Kathryn Bond Stockton, John Vincent, Maurice Wallace, Barry Weller
Engaging and challenging the work of sociologists, legal theorists, and historians, Stockton coins the term “growing sideways” to describe ways of growing that defy the usual sense of growing “up” in a linear trajectory toward full stature, marriage, reproduction, and the relinquishing of childish ways. Growing sideways is a mode of irregular growth involving odd lingerings, wayward paths, and fertile delays. Contending that children’s queerness is rendered and explored best in fictional forms, including literature, film, and television, Stockton offers dazzling readings of works ranging from novels by Henry James, Radclyffe Hall, Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, and Vladimir Nabokov to the movies Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Hanging Garden, Heavenly Creatures, Hoop Dreams, and the 2005 remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The result is a fascinating look at children’s masochism, their interactions with pedophiles and animals, their unfathomable, hazy motives (leading them at times into sex, seduction, delinquency, and murder), their interracial appetites, and their love of consumption and destruction through the alluring economy of candy.
Contributors. Josiah Blackmore, Linde M. Brocato, Catherine Brown, Israel Burshatin, Daniel Eisenberg, E. Michael Gerli, Roberto J. González-Casanovas, Gregory S. Hutcheson, Mark D. Jordan, Sara Lipton, Benjamin Liu, Mary Elizabeth Perry, Michael Solomon, Louise O. Vasvári, Barbara Weissberger
Combining feminist theory, queer theory, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and literary criticism, Freccero takes up a series of theoretical and historical issues related to debates in queer theory, feminist theory, the history of sexuality, and early modern studies. She juxtaposes readings of early and late modern texts, discussing the lyric poetry of Petrarch, Louise Labé, and Melissa Ethridge; David Halperin’s take on Michel Foucault via Apuleius’s The Golden Ass and Boccaccio’s Decameron; and France’s domestic partner legislation in connection with Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron. Turning to French cleric Jean de Léry’s account, published in 1578, of having witnessed cannibalism and religious rituals in Brazil some twenty years earlier and to the twentieth-century Brandon Teena case, Freccero draws on Jacques Derrida’s concept of spectrality to propose both an ethics and a mode of interpretation that acknowledges and is inspired by the haunting of the present by the past.
Contributors. Alan Bray, Marcie Frank, Carla Freccero, Jonathan Goldberg, Janet Halley, Graham Hammill, Margaret Hunt, Donald N. Mager, Jeff Masten, Elizabeth Pittenger, Richard Rambuss, Alan K. Smith, Dorothy Stephens, Forrest Tyler Stevens, Valerie Traub, Michael Warner
Contributors. Matt Bell, Amanda Berry, Daniel Boyarin, Judith Brown, Steven Bruhm, Peter Coviello, Julie Crawford, Drew Daniel, Mario DiGangi, Lee Edelman, Jason Edwards, Aranye Fradenburg, Carla Freccero, Daniel Juan Gil, Jonathan Goldberg, Jody Greene, Stephen Guy-Bray, Ellis Hanson, Sharon Holland, Cary Howie, Lynne Huffer, Barbara Johnson, Hector Kollias, James Kuzner , Arthur L. Little Jr., Philip Lorenz, Heather Love, Jeffrey Masten, Robert McRuer , Madhavi Menon, Michael Moon, Paul Morrison, Andrew Nicholls, Kevin Ohi, Patrick R. O’Malley, Ann Pellegrini, Richard Rambuss, Valerie Rohy, Bethany Schneider, Kathryn Schwarz, Laurie Shannon, Ashley T. Shelden, Alan Sinfield, Bruce Smith, Karl Steel, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Amy Villarejo, Julian Yates
Moon illuminates the careers of James, Warhol, and others by examining the imaginative investments of their protogay childhoods in their work in ways that enable new, more complex cultural readings. He deftly engages notions of initiation and desire not within the traditional framework of “sexual orientation” but through the disorienting effects of imitation. Whether invoking the artist Joseph Cornell’s early fascination with the Great Houdini or turning his attention to James’s self-described “initiation into style” at the age of twelve—when he first encountered the homoerotic imagery in paintings by David, Géricault, and Girodet—Moon reveals how the works of these artists emerge from an engagement that is obsessive to the point of “queerness.”
Rich in historical detail and insistent in its melding of the recent with the remote, the literary with the visual, the popular with the elite, A Small Boy and Others presents a hitherto unimagined tradition of brave and outrageous queer invention. This long-awaited contribution from Moon will be welcomed by all those engaged in literary, cultural, and queer studies.
Contributors. Daniel Cooper Alarcón, Lori Askeland, Stephanie Athey, Nancy Bentley, Lauren Berlant, Michele A. Birnbaum, Kristin Carter-Sanborn, Russ Castronovo, Joan Dayan, Julie Ellison, Sander L. Gilman, Karla F. C. Holloway, Annette Kolodny, Barbara Ladd, Lora Romero, Ramón Saldívar, Maggie Sale, Siobhan Senier, Timothy Sweet, Maurice Wallace, Elizabeth Young
In prose sometimes somber, often high-spirited, and always accessible and moving, Touching Feeling interrogates—through virtuoso readings of works by Henry James, J. L. Austin, Judith Butler, the psychologist Silvan Tomkins and others—emotion in many forms. What links the work of teaching to the experience of illness? How can shame become an engine for queer politics, performance, and pleasure? Is sexuality more like an affect or a drive? Is paranoia the only realistic epistemology for modern intellectuals? Ultimately, Sedgwick's unfashionable commitment to the truth of happiness propels a book as open-hearted as it is intellectually daring.
Litvak traces the outlines of comic cosmopolitanism in a series of performances in film and theater and before HUAC, performances by Jewish artists and intellectuals such as Zero Mostel, Judy Holliday, and Abraham Polonsky. At the same time, through an uncompromising analysis of work by informers including Jerome Robbins, Elia Kazan, and Budd Schulberg, he explains the triumph of a stoolpigeon culture that still thrives in the America of the early twenty-first century.
Several of the essays focus on literary works—both celebrated and forgotten ones—from the turn of the century, when social Darwinism, eugenics, and other forms of the new “scientific” social thinking were being used to exclude large segments of the population from the realm of the “natural” or the “healthy.” Beginning with the treatment of the figure of the spinster in the fiction of Harriet Beecher Stowe, these essays move in provocative and refreshing ways through their reconsiderations of the “unnatural formations” to be found in the work of writers ranging from pioneering African American author Pauline Hopkins to Henry James, Florence Converse, Willa Cather, and Djuna Barnes.
Readers interested in sampling the best current scholarship on the effects on American cultural and social history of different ways of understanding gender, sexuality, and race will find this special issue of American Literature a valuable and stimulating resource.
Offering bold new ways to imagine attachment and belonging, and the public performance and recognition of social intimacy, The Wedding Complex is a major contribution to American studies, queer theory, and cultural studies.
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