Monday, March 4, 2013

From the Outside Looking In

Will Stockton's discussion, a response to Freccero's essay on Romeo and Juliet, and location of the queer in a play touted to be one of the 'straightest' plays, had many shining moments but what stood out the most to me was his discussion of anti-sociality and social resistance through alternate modes of community. The more abstract parts of queer theory is often difficult for me to wrap my mind around, but its practical application, and the way it unfolds in literature is, for me, usually got at through race theory and the way it intersects and functions along side queer theory. Race and queer liberation struggles, the way both theories are grounded in Other'd bodies unfold in similar ways (though certainly not the same -- and both face very different challenges).

Stockton's points on alternate mode's of community (monastic life, Romeo and Juliet's secret marriage, etc) and his discussion of the queer body as the necessary center for queer theory made me think of current discourse about communities made up of bodies of color, and the external and internal reactions to those communities, especially when a sizable portion of that community is veiled (or 'threatened' with being veiled). His resistance to (and I think Robert made a comment to this effect as well) the idea that the discourse of communities marked for death and suffering, and rushing toward that sort of misery as the only interpretation of anti-sociality really struck a chord with me.

That sort of resistance is important, I think, in the transformation of spaces that have the potential to be rife with misery into places of 'happiness' (and I would resist defining happiness as something that conforms to an easily recognizable form of the term to the 'outside') for its inhabitants. Like the Friar who's desire seems vegetale, whose satisfaction is not recognizable to us, finding alternate spaces and vehicles to express different satisfactions and happiness is necessary. And I'd argue that it's possibility is grounded in the body, and the space made up of individuals.

Like Kelsey, I worry about divorcing the term queer from the actual queer body, and believe that the discussions necessary to engage with the creation of anti social spaces, and their maintenance are easily muddled or lost altogether when the term becomes an all encompassing one.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to post this here, but it is a response to both yours and Kelsey's points about the dilution of queer theory. I think that Professor Stockton hit the nail on the proverbial head in his use of making sure that homosexuality remains "tethered" to queer theory. In academia, it seems a recurrent theme that the validity of a course of study or methodology is directly related to the universality of its impact; this happens in a number of disciplines, including history (Environmental theory is all the rage and everywhere, it seems.) I wonder if a greater lesson here might not be in changing our perceptions of what makes a methodology worthy of study -- just because theory X does not apply to everything in every situation does not make it unworthy of consideration. By that standard, maybe there wouldn't be such a seeming "race" for universal applicability in some types of theory, which then would translate to the threat of dilution being less of an issue.