front cover of The Sense of Brown
The Sense of Brown
José Esteban Muñoz. Edited and with an Introduction by Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong'o
Duke University Press, 2020
The Sense of Brown is José Esteban Muñoz's treatise on brownness and being as well as his most direct address to queer Latinx studies. In this book, which he was completing at the time of his death, Muñoz examines the work of playwrights Ricardo Bracho and Nilo Cruz, artists Nao Bustamante, Isaac Julien, and Tania Bruguera, and singer José Feliciano, among others, arguing for a sense of brownness that is not fixed within the racial and national contours of Latinidad. This sense of brown is not about the individualized brown subject; rather, it demonstrates that for brown peoples, being exists within what Muñoz calls the brown commons—a lifeworld, queer ecology, and form of collectivity. In analyzing minoritarian affect, ethnicity as a structure of feeling, and brown feelings as they emerge in, through, and beside art and performance, Muñoz illustrates how the sense of brown serves as the basis for other ways of knowing and being in the world.

front cover of Sex, or the Unbearable
Sex, or the Unbearable
Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman
Duke University Press, 2014
Sex, or the Unbearable is a dialogue between Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman, two of our leading theorists of sexuality, politics, and culture. In juxtaposing sex and the unbearable they don't propose that sex is unbearable, only that it unleashes unbearable contradictions that we nonetheless struggle to bear. In Berlant and Edelman's exchange, those terms invoke disturbances produced in encounters with others, ourselves, and the world, disturbances that tap into threats induced by fears of loss or rupture as well as by our hopes for repair.

Through virtuoso interpretations of works of cinema, photography, critical theory, and literature, including Lydia Davis's story "Break It Down" (reprinted in full here), Berlant and Edelman explore what it means to live with negativity, with those divisions that may be irreparable. Together, they consider how such negativity affects politics, theory, and intimately felt encounters. But where their critical approaches differ, neither hesitates to voice disagreement. Their very discussion—punctuated with moments of frustration, misconstruction, anxiety, aggression, recognition, exhilaration, and inspiration—enacts both the difficulty and the potential of encounter, the subject of this unusual exchange between two eminent critics and close friends.


front cover of Sexual Hegemony
Sexual Hegemony
Statecraft, Sodomy, and Capital in the Rise of the World System
Christopher Chitty
Duke University Press, 2020
In Sexual Hegemony Christopher Chitty traces the five-hundred year history of capitalist sexual relations by excavating the class dynamics of the bourgeoisie's attempts to regulate homosexuality. Tracking the politicization of male homosexuality in Renaissance Florence, Amsterdam, Paris, and London between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as twentieth-century New York City, Chitty shows how sexuality became a crucial dimension of the accumulation of capital and a technique of bourgeois rule. Whether policing male sodomy during the Medici rule in Florence or accusing the French aristocracy of monstrous sexuality in the wake of the French Revolution, the bourgeoisie weaponized both sexual constraint and sexual freedom in order to produce and control a reliable and regimented labor class and subordinate it to civil society and the state. Only by grasping sexuality as a field of social contention and the site of class conflict, Chitty contends, can we embark on a politics that destroys sexuality as a tool and an effect of power and open a front against the forces that keep us unfree.

front cover of Sexuality, Disability, and Aging
Sexuality, Disability, and Aging
Queer Temporalities of the Phallus
Jane Gallop
Duke University Press, 2019
Drawing on her own experiences with late-onset disability and its impact on her sex life, along with her expertise as a cultural critic, Jane Gallop explores how disability and aging work to undermine one's sense of self. She challenges common conceptions that equate the decline of bodily potential and ability with a permanent and irretrievable loss, arguing that such a loss can be both temporary and positively transformative. With Sexuality, Disability, and Aging, Gallop explores and celebrates how sexuality transforms and becomes more queer in the lives of the no longer young and the no longer able while at the same time demonstrating how disability can generate new forms of sexual fantasy and erotic possibility.

front cover of Shakesqueer
A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare
Madhavi Menon, ed.
Duke University Press, 2011
Shakesqueer puts the most exciting queer theorists in conversation with the complete works of William Shakespeare. Exploring what is odd, eccentric, and unexpected in the Bard’s plays and poems, these theorists highlight not only the many ways that Shakespeare can be queered but also the many ways that Shakespeare can enrich queer theory. This innovative anthology reveals an early modern playwright insistently returning to questions of language, identity, and temporality, themes central to contemporary queer theory. Since many of the contributors do not study early modern literature, Shakesqueer takes queer theory back and brings Shakespeare forward, challenging the chronological confinement of queer theory to the last two hundred years. The book also challenges conceptual certainties that have narrowly equated queerness with homosexuality. Chasing all manner of stray desires through every one of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, the contributors cross temporal, animal, theoretical, and sexual boundaries with abandon. Claiming adherence to no one school of thought, the essays consider The Winter’s Tale alongside network TV, Hamlet in relation to the death drive, King John as a history of queer theory, and Much Ado About Nothing in tune with a Sondheim musical. Together they expand the reach of queerness and queer critique across chronologies, methodologies, and bodies.

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


front cover of The Shapes of Fancy
The Shapes of Fancy
Reading for Queer Desire in Early Modern Literature
Christine Varnado
University of Minnesota Press, 2020

Exploring forms of desire unaccounted for in previous histories of sexuality

What can the Renaissance tell us at our present moment about who and what is “queer,” as well as the political consequences of asking? In posing this question, The Shapes of Fancy offers a powerful new method of accounting for ineffable and diffuse forms of desire, mining early modern drama and prose literature to describe new patterns of affective resonance.

Starting with the question of how and why readers seek traces of desire in texts from bygone times and places, The Shapes of Fancy demonstrates a practice of critical attunement to the psychic and historical circulations of affect across time within texts, from texts to readers, and among readers. Closely reading for uncharted desires as they recur in early modern drama, witchcraft pamphlets, and early Atlantic voyage narratives and demonstrating how each is structured by qualities of secrecy, impossibility, and excess, Christine Varnado follows four “shapes of fancy”: the desire to be used to others’ ends; indiscriminate, bottomless appetite; paranoid self-fulfilling suspicion; and melancholic longings for impossible transformations and affinities. These affective dynamics go awry in atypical and perverse ways. In other words, argues Varnado, these modes of feeling are recognizable on the page or stage as “queer” because of how, and not by whom, they are expressed.

This new theorization of desire expands the notion of queerness in literature, decoupling the literary trace of queerness from the binary logics of same-sex versus opposite-sex and normative versus deviant that have governed early modern sexuality studies. Providing a set of methods for analyzing affect and desire in texts from any period, The Shapes of Fancy stages an impassioned defense of the inherently desirous nature of reading, making a case for readerly investment and identification as vital engines of meaning making and political insight.


front cover of The Small Book of Hip Checks
The Small Book of Hip Checks
On Queer Gender, Race, and Writing
Erica Rand
Duke University Press, 2021
In The Small Book of Hip Checks Erica Rand uses multiple meanings of hip check—including an athlete using their hip to throw an opponent off-balance and the inspection of racialized gender—to consider the workings of queer gender, race, and writing. Explicitly attending to processes of writing and revising, Rand pursues interruption, rethinking, and redirection to challenge standard methods of argumentation and traditional markers of heft and fluff. She writes about topics including a trans shout-out in a Super Bowl ad, the heyday of lavender dildos, ballet dancer Misty Copeland, the criticism received by figure skater Debi Thomas and tennis great Serena Williams for competing in bodysuits while Black, and the gendering involved in identifying the remains of people who die trying to cross into the United States south of Tucson, Arizona. Along the way, Rand encourages making muscle memory of experimentation and developing an openness to being conceptually knocked sideways. In other words, to be hip-checked.

front cover of The Specter of Materialism
The Specter of Materialism
Queer Theory and Marxism in the Age of the Beijing Consensus
Petrus Liu
Duke University Press, 2023
In recent years, queer theory appears to have made a materialist turn away from questions of representation and performativity to those of dispossession, precarity, and the differential distribution of life chances. Despite this shift, queer theory finds itself constantly reabsorbed into the liberal project of diversity management. This theoretical and political weakness, Petrus Liu argues, stems from an incomplete understanding of capitalism’s contemporary transformations, of which China has been at the center. In The Specter of Materialism Liu challenges key premises of classic queer theory and Marxism, turning to an analysis of the Beijing Consensus—global capitalism’s latest mutation—to develop a new theory of the political economy of sexuality. Liu explores how relations of gender and sexuality get reconfigured to meet the needs of capital in new regimes of accumulation and dispossession, demonstrating that evolving US-Asian economic relations shape the emergence of new queer identities and academic theories. In so doing, he offers a new history of collective struggles that provides a transnational framework for understanding the nexus between queerness and material life.

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