Research in Progress

AFTER QUEER STUDIES: LITERARY THEORY AND CRITICAL INTERPRETATION, co-editor with E.L. McCallum, under contract with Cambridge UP

This volume maps the influences that made queer theory’s academic emergence possible and charts the trajectories that shape its continued evolution. Indeed, many of the major queer theorists trained as literary scholars, including Michael Warner, Lauren Berlant, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Diana Fuss, Leo Bersani, and D. A. Miller. Drawing on post-structural critiques of essentialism as well as psychoanalytical and feminist reappraisals of the subject and desire, these scholars re-read canonical texts of literary studies, discerning the non-normative and even perverse operations of gender, sexuality, identity, and desire as they developed the methodologies and questions of queer studies. Nor has literary studies been untouched by the hand of queer theory; many of its trending concerns, such as the affective turn, the question of the subject, and the significance of social categories like race, class, and sexual differences, are deeply indebted to the critical emergence of queer studies. The book’s genealogical emphasis on “After” bridges the gap between queer studies’ legacies and its horizons, and we do not assume that a sharp divide exists between the pasts and the futures of queer studies. Instead, the book initiates a new discussion on the durable, ongoing influences of queer theory—on the irreducible changes that queer studies has initiated in the conceptual field of literary and cultural studies. At the same time, After Queer Studies weaves this reflection alongside a consideration of queer studies’ continued evolution of new concepts, methods, and modes of interpretation.

LIVELY WORDS: THE POLITICS AND POETICS OF EXPERIMENTAL WRITING, guest editor of a special issue of College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies, publication scheduled for Jan. 2019.

The title of this special issue draws inspiration from Gertrude Stein’s “lively words,” a style of experimental writing that has been influential for many queer and feminist experimental writers. The essays in this special issue will reconsider the “liveliness” of experimental writing in the twentieth and twenty-first century—not only how experimental poetics disrupt codified practices of reading, but also how experimental writers conceive of the relationship between their words and the social world more broadly. How does experimental writing engender political liveliness among readers, publics, and counterpublics, and what methodologies are required to understand this vital relationship between the poetics and politics of experimental writing? To answer these questions, this special issue of College Literature seeks to understand what, precisely, experimental writing has to offer contemporary literary studies and, in turn, how literary studies can newly appraise the social and historical significance of experimental writing in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. To this end, this special issue asks: How might scholars redraw the historical, geographical, and political coordinates of experimental writing? What new archives, movements, forms, and genres of experimental writing demand scholarly attention now? In what ways does experimental writing anticipate, contest, or speak back to recent shifts in literary studies, such as the postcritical and affective turn? What are the aesthetic politics of experimental writing in the contemporary moment, particularly in the context of digital culture, the gentrification of radical social movements, the global recession, and the politics of race, gender, and sexuality?


How has neoliberalism altered the legal, economic, and discursive structures through which we narrate kinship? In what ways has the biopolitical restructuring of privacy, property, and debt eroded and redefined the kinship relations of the traditional nuclear family? What retrenchments are emerging around hetero- and homo-normative kinship, and what potentialities for queer relationality—untethered from biology, blood, and the state—are being explored in contemporary queer literature? To answer these questions, this project focuses on kinship narratives that dramatically foreground the entwined queering of familial and narrative structure that has arisen in the post-millennial period. This book draws on kinship theory, narrative theory, and queer theory to study an expansive archive of contemporary literature, from authors such as Maggie Nelson, Alison Bechdel, Octavia Butler, Tony Kushner, and Indra Das.


Additional essays in progress on inchoate kinship in Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?, Samuel Delany’s hermeneutics of eroticism, cheating plots in contemporary fiction, and the horizons of queer narrative theory.