The following paper has been revised from my 2001 MA thesis, which asked ‘Is it possible to define a strategy for reading queer?’ This includes an investigation of how the traditionally stable categories of reader/text/author may be redefined by queer strategies that instead force instability and flux. In the three years that have elapsed since first conceiving of this piece, I argue that the potential of queer reading is still one that has not been adequately explored. As I acknowledge, ‘whilst the queer does flag the fluctuating nature of sexual identity… it may also be used to unpack broader patterns of knowledge’ including those that give structure and meaning to our readerly imaginations.
This paper concentrates especially on the ability of the queer to skew our hegemonic definitions of intimacy, moving from the dualistic self/other into the additive space conjured by queer theorists such as Eve Sedgwick and foregrounded by earlier feminist positions, such as the ‘placental economy’ of Rouch and Irigaray. Broadly speaking, what do such revised notions of intimacy do to the concept of ‘reading’ and how do they reconfigure the relationship ‘between things’ that reading involves? Key to my argument is the acknowledgement that ‘reading queer’ involves a radical rethinking of our ability to relate, and here I spend some time imagining what this revision may involve when figured through the lens of a queer liaison. It concludes by suggesting further starting points for investigation such as the positions of Lyotard and Butler, as well as indicating the queer readerly provocation which I suggest is apparent in Doane’s ‘lesbian post modern’.
Reading as Act of Queer Love: The Role of Intimacy in the “Readerly” Contract.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 5(2), 53-64.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol5/iss2/7