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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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The Future of Lesbian Genders

By Lisa L. Moore »»» Does “lesbian” have a future? Queer and transgender theories are sometimes understood to have supplanted the analytic and cultural usefulness of the term lesbian. This essay identifies a tradition of intertwined lesbian, trans, and woman of color feminist work on gender that has deeply shaped current theories of gender. As an example of the interpretive possibilities of lesbian genders, the essay then sketches out a lesbian history of the sonnet to show how what starts out as a limit or exclusion can be creatively and campily refigured as an aesthetic.

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The Cultural Politics of Perversion: Augustine, Shakespeare, Freud, Foucault

By Jonathan Dollimore »»» I want to say something about the intellectual context out of which this paper grew, acutely aware of the problems facing humanities departments in both the US and the UK, and the seemingly grim outlook for them in the future. This essay argues that perversion is not only a culturally central phenomenon but, thereby, also a crucial category for cultural analysis.