Post #10 Quare Theory

Johnson says that if gender (race, class, etc.) are performative as Butler says, then people actually perform them, and we can study those performances. Doing so will force us to recognize that performances are both constrained and enabled by flesh—by the concrete embodiment of the performers. This kind of study—taking account of both the discursive nature of performativity and the fleshy nature of performance—is what Johnson calls quare. Think about your own typical gender, class, and racial performances. How is your behavior or self-presentation limited and enabled by the concrete aspects of your physical embodiment?

Here is an example that I think we talked a little about obliquely two weeks ago in class. I was very nervous about how I should dress for my inauguration day. My anxiety had to do mainly with class performance and to some extent with gender performance. I lack the skills and knowledge to perform “upper-middle class” convincingly, and I feared the situation required me to try.

Are there times when you have anticipated or actually been in a situation where you felt you were at or near the limits of what you could perform (in terms of class, race, gender, etc.)? Where were you? What did it feel like to be there? What did you do? What happened? How might your experience look from the perspective of quare theory?

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Post #9 Wilchins Queer Theory Gender Theory

In chapter 7, Wilchins writes, “At the margins, Science no longer asks but tells. Nature no longer speaks the truth, but is spoken to. Here, where our narrative of Sex breaks down, Knowledge finally bares its teeth.” What does Wilchins mean by knowledge’s “teeth”? Give an example of knowledge’s teeth from the text. (Be sure to cite it.) After explaining Wilchins’ idea and the example you chose, describe how you feel when you think about this.

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Post #7 McRuer & Kafer on Queer & Crip

With McRuer and Kafer (and also our guest speaker this week Dr. Kim Q. Hall), we explore intersections between queer studies and disability studies. McRuer says that able-bodiedness is compulsory in our society, much as heterosexuality is. Kafer says that our society tends to believe that both queer people and disabled people have no future. Pick one of these claims and explain it, and then share your own observations of how able-bodiedness is compulsory and/or disabled people, like queer people, are seen as without a future or opponents of the Child. You may also want to share your feelings about these readings, both of which are very passionate and powerful.

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Post #6 Muñoz & Queer Temporality

Especially on pages 21-25, Muñoz contrasts his project with that of Edelman by focusing on different concepts of temporality or time. As well as you can, describe these two different concepts of time that Muñoz describes in these pages and explain how they differ from each other. How does Muñoz’s queer temporality enable him to develop hope and imagine a future queer collectivity?

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Post #5 Eldelman

In the first chapter of No Future, Edelman presents his idea that “the queer” is the figure onto which our Symbolic order (language, representation, intelligibility) projects a death drive and thereby protects itself/us from awareness of vulnerability and decay. “The queer” is despised and attacked (or allowed to die, as in the refusal to fund AIDS research), while “the Child” is valorized as the figure of the future that goes on forever and does not decay.

In chapters 2 and 3, Edelman develops the idea that Desire opposes Jouissance much as the Child negates the queer (or the sinthomosexual, as he says in chapter 2). Desire obeys the law and is oriented toward the future (satisfaction), but in order to remain what it is (Desire), it must defer satisfaction endlessly (as the law of the Father requires: thou shalt not enjoy thy mother). Desire, therefore, endlessly posits a future and progress toward it. By contrast, jouissance (enjoyment or ecstasy, as we said in class) is oriented only toward the present, never toward the future; in ecstasy, the future is meaningless and only right now matters.

Jouissance implies the loss of self. We might say that “one loses oneself in the moment.” Proper, dignified people are in control of themselves; they don’t lose themselves; they always remember who they are and where their boundaries are. They are responsible. They calculate and plan for the future. In jouissance, no one is control and boundaries cease to hold. From the perspective of proper people, jouissance is therefore very scary.

Edelman traces expressions of these fantasies of control and propriety in cultural productions such as Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest.” In the course of those analyses, he critiques “compassion,” especially the compassion called for by Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Gary Bauer, and the Concerned Families of Maryland. He suggests that compassion is not really “love of the neighbor.” What is it, instead? And what would real “love of the neighbor” be, according to Edelman’s work? How might such love relate to jouissance?

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Post #4 Fetishism and Disavowal

Freud believes that only males can become fetishists, for only they have a motive to disavow the mother’s castrated status. Grosz says that, nevertheless, females do have the capacity to engage in psychoanalytic disavowal (a specific kind of psychic defense mechanism) and, therefore, females in some situations are capable of something analogous to fetishism. But Grosz wants to go beyond Freud—stretch his ideas, as she says—to turn the capacity for disavowal into a positive thing. How does she make her argument? Do you think she is right?

When I read, for the first time, these two texts, I was a bit uncomfortable, especially with Grosz’s text.

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Post #2 Butler, Gender Trouble

Drag performances (as Butler discusses them on pages 186-193) are often parody. Critics have interpreted them as parodies of women (when the performer is anatomically male and is dressed and comporting himself as a woman) and therefore as offensive, as a kind of ridicule of women. But Butler thinks they can in fact be parodies of something else, as she explains on page 188. What does Butler think drag performances parody, and why does she think this is subversive? Do you agree with her? Why or why not? If you’ve seen drag performances, describe them in relation to these ideas.

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Post #1 Ten queeries

Post your ten “Queeries” here by 3:00 on Wednesday, January 13. After you post, you’ll be able to see the other students’ posts too. Some time after 3:00 on Wednesday, go back through and read all the queeries. Remember, one of these may turn out to be the question you want to pursue for your final research presentation.

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