More than twenty years after Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick pointed at what queer can gesture toward—“the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning, when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically” (8)—this special issue of The Writing Instructor seeks to enliven queer/reclaim queer/activate queer/reinvigorate queer/explicate queer/exculpate queer/keep queer alive by exploring and ascertaining the state of “queer and now.” Where and how does queer live in the here-now? Does it? What/where are queer’s (anti-)ambitions? Queer’s possibilities? What contradictions/tensions/contestations/excitements/pleasures exist around queer? What constitutes queer production/the production of queers today? (How) does queer overlap with (and/or subvert?) LGB? And T? And how does queer produce (how is queer produced by) literacy, writing studies, pedagogical practices, rhetoric, social/cultural/historical contexts, politics, and ideology?
In the spirit of queer’s commitments to play, collage, pastiche, reinvention, indecorum, resignification, theft for just ends, border/genre transgressions, and (institutional) perversions, we begin with clues.
“What’s ‘queer’? Here’s one train[wreck] of thought[s] about it”:
We are trying to imagine a queer pedagogy that attends in particular to the complexities, differences, and inter-woven-ness of different people’s feelings, a pedagogy that makes space for engagement with messy, multi-faceted processes, emotions, and selves. The use of gender-neutral and genderqueer language goes a long way toward turning the gender binary into a continuum. Queer acts of identification are moments of recognition—sometimes inspired by the flick of a wrist, the swish of a hip, the voice cracking—all those tells that signal a sort of Excess, a way of being that is a step away from the norm. Emotional literacy and writing proficiency, queer reading and a writerly identity—can be woven into a usable cloth, a textile of text, so to speak. I…encourage students to historicize the literary and documentary strategies and genres by which queer, medicalized, and stigmatized subjects engage in tactical reversals of discourse, potentially moving beyond the “same terms” by which they were medically disqualified. Queer time necessitates that we join a dual-lineage of both historicity and futurity. Embracing the queer pleasures of the archives must be understood as a vital aspect of queer existence both theoretically and practically.
“Person’s Gender is a Lie.”
Is it gender and gay hegemonies that are killing . . . queer energies and queer lives? How can queer, as verb, noun, and/or adjective, help us resist and subvert false binaries? In exchange for the full entitlements of cultural citizenship, the homonationalist essentially consents to become a mascot, enabling the nation to perform its identity as modern and democratic by virtue of its “tolerant” embrace of the queer . . . the contemporary LGBT person openly, and with a civic hug, wields a flag, marries a partner, raises children, consumes goods, serves in the military, runs for office, turns to legal remedies when her rights are violated, expects deferential service in hotels and restaurants, and, hand in hand with her partner, cheers on camera for her country at the Olympics. The surprise and pleasure of having about one hundred cut out sperm—emblazoned with clock faces and made from photocopied maps and money—spill out of an envelope and onto the reading room table was immediate and immersive. We cannot fully banish the erotic from the classroom any more than we can fully banish stereotypes. When would you like me to tell you I’m queer? Before we go over the syllabus on our first day of class, as we trace the skeletal structure of the course? Or by week seven, when the foundation has set and our roots begin to sprout through the ivory floors and stony walls, and we’ve collected and categorized bits of information about each other?
Inquiring about preferred
names and pronouns retains transformative potential that some find
Pedagogy is a heterosexed political indoctrination in service of heterosexed institutional imperative. Go forth and queer pedagogy.
. . .
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Tendencies. Durham: Duke UP, 1993. Print.