Issue 1:2 Fall 2016

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Editors' Note: Vol 1:2
By Judith Roof and Alanna Beroiza »»» The first essay of this issue, Milo Obourn’s “Racialized Disgender and Disruptive Futurity in Lorde’s and Engelberg’s Cancer Narratives” considers the relation between disability and “disgendering” as a “disabling process of racialized gender” by which “culturally-informed bodies come to inhabit a disgendered and tenuous subjecthood.” Thinking through complex modes of experience and representation rather than obscuring them with the terms of identity politics, Obourn’s essay asks us to think about how some genderings are already disabilities, how marked race can exist without a gender, and why disabilities cannot be reduced to any irredeemably negative status.That this disgendering often manufactures a negative subjective status helps to understand the ways in which the presumed narrative trajectories of gender, race, and disability are much more complex than categorical thought would presume, asking that we consider the both/and qualities of gendered, raced, and disabled subjectivities. The essay’s theory of disgendering complicates gender as an “identity” in the sense that gender’s presumed link to reproductive futures is not constructed in relation to the kind of absolute negativity that Edelman talks about in No Future. For Obourn, disgendering does operate within the imaginary confines of either/or logics that identity categories require to exist. Instead, disgendering disrupts logics of reproductive futurity by “[situating] us in relation to the future without…inherently presenting us with a promise” (26).

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Racialized Disgender and Disruptive Futurity in Lorde’s and Engelberg’s Cancer Narratives
By Milo Obourn »»» Gender is a cultural commodity that disables racialized and gendered subjects via physical and psychological limitations, as well as restricting access to expression, political agency, and public belonging. This essay reads two breast cancer autopathographies through a disability studies lens to explore ways in which critical analyses of modes of granting or denying legible gender identity to sick bodies might render the relationship between discourses of ability, race and gender normativity more legible, ultimately helping us think through the ways racialized disgender functions and how it might disrupt raced and gendered logics of reproductive futurity.

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In Pieces: Fragmentary Meditations on Queer Mother Memoirs and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts
By Robin Silbergleid »»» "I wanted a baby, not a partner. I kept magazines like Martha Stewart Baby and Hip Mama on my coffee table. I read everything I could get my hands on about being a single mother by choice, which wasn’t much at the time. If you wanted to read a mother memoir, you read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. Within a few years, motherhood memoirs exploded the market. But the book I needed to read was still years from publication: Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts"

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Obnoxiousness and Elizabeth Bowen’s Queer/ing Adolescents
By renee hoogland »»» This essay brings together the constitutive operations of language (or discourse) and the critical function of feelings in questions of meaning and be(com)ing, by connecting the figure of the queer adolescent in Bowen with the equally queer operations of her writing, with her novels as aesthetic events. Its purpose is to posit adolescence as a particular structure of feeling that, in the assemblage of Bowen’s writing, at once mobilizes the stylistic operations of her prose and that, no less forcefully, (over)determines the singularity and materiality of her novels’ aesthetic effects.

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“‘There is No Magic Here’: Saidiya Hartman, Percival Everett’s Zulus, and Slavery’s Archive”
By Beth A. McCoy, Gregory J. Palermo, Jeremy A. Jackson, Danielle M. Ward, Timothy Moriarty, Christina Broomfield, Melissa Ann Smith, Matt Huben, Justin M. Turner»»» For Saidiya Hartman, slavery’s archive reveals one thing over and over: bondage so limited agency that “negation” became the “central possibility for action.” Percival Everett’s Zulus anticipates Hartman's conclusion by bringing readers to literal grips with it. Rewriting Jean Toomer's Cane and Frederick Douglass's autobiographies, Zulus traces Alice Achitophel's quest for agency through archives made of mud, music, waste, and more. Forcing her to endure jumbled versions of the gendered anti-black violence that impels Toomer's and Douglass's texts, Alice's quest through archives transforms her into an archive produced through her flesh. Zulus thus suggests that those who would attempt to interpret slavery's archive must confront the captivity of those who remain in and whose remains are the archive: wound unhealable and void unfillable.

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“Sex-Consciousness” to Self-Consciousness: Second-Wave Feminism and Postmodern Autofiction
By Marjorie Worthington »»» This essay draws a direct line of connection between the Women’s Movement and the subsequent challenge to male privilege at all levels of social organization was a key stimulus of postmodern literary self-consciousness. Through an examination of the form of fiction known as “autofiction,” it argues that, just as modernist crises of masculinity led to a reification of the self-abnegating attempts at universality and objectivity of High Modernist literature, postmodern crises of masculinity were a contributing factor in the widespread manifestation of self-consciousness in postmodern literature.

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Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings by Joanna Brooks, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, and Hannah Wheelwright. Review.
By Olivia Meikle »»» “How can you be a Mormon and a feminist?” The question has been asked of Mormon feminists for decades, and the editors of the new anthology Mormon Feminism provide a compelling answer. Published by Oxford University Press, it is the first serious look at the theoretical base of modern Mormon feminism. Though much attention has lately been paid to the recent resurgence of feminist activism within the Mormon Church, with stories appearing at regular intervals in major news outlets such as Huffington Post and the New York Times, this is the first scholarly attempt to track the history and influence of “modern” Mormon feminists in their own words.

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Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Motherhood
By Mary Thompson»»» Is “third wave feminism” a useful concept for understanding the biopolitics of neoliberalism? This essay critically explores the celebration of reproductive “choice” by self-identified third wave feminists through a consideration of the racial and racist history of the term “breeder,” the title of Lavender and Gore’s 2001 collection of motherhood narratives.

Back to the Future

Each issue of Genders republishes an important essay from the journal's early years with a new introduction by its author. By looking back we hope to assess the changes and continuities of gender issues across several decades and to anticipate their possible futures.