In this special issue of SAQ, a prominent group of contributors consider the vicissitudes of queer theory since its inception in the early 1990s. The issue considers what—if anything—lies at the heart of queer studies other than its interest in sexuality. With essays intended to be more reflective than scholarly, the authors contemplate the future of queer theory by meditating richly on its past. Whether viewing sexuality as the epitome of the social or of the anti-social, the essays form a sustained meditation on sex as a source of delight and trouble, as a subject of serious inquiry, and as a political conundrum.
Contributors explore the interdisciplinarity of the field and its relation to other fields, such as critical race studies, feminism, and lesbian and gay studies. Several essays recall the birth of queer theory in the days of the feminist-sex wars and the first AIDS-related gay male deaths; some contributors evoke the days of the field’s infancy while others are pleased to embrace its maturity. The sheer number and breadth of the topics considered—everything from Hank Williams and the paradoxes of Native American sovereignty to the declension of atoms in the writings of Lucretius, from Henry Darger’s “naive” depiction of girls with male genitals to the experience of being single or of falling asleep—reflect the continuing power of queer theory a generation after its inception.
Richard Thompson Ford
José Esteban Muñoz
Elizabeth A. Povinelli
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick