Queer Time, Horizons, and Utopias

WHAT:

Last time, we discussed l’écriture féminine, a theory of writing/reading practice that identifies the ways in which dominant masculine structures influence (and, as Cixous would argue, inherently control) the very logic of rhetoric, down to the way we compose linear prose and produce material texts.This week, theories of queer time, horizons, futurity, and utopias will challenge us to consider the value of rational hope in the face of these immediate oppressive structures.

BIG PICTURE: 

There is a there there (and then). We find it by looking around, back at what once was and forward to what might/could/should be, relative to where we are now.

TO READ:

Introduction and Chapter 1, “Queerness as a Horizon” of José Esteban Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

RECOMMENDED/SUPPLEMENTARY READING:

We can discuss these at the salon if you like, but I’m really only putting them here in case they are helpful to you for final projects. Bookmark for the future! (see what I did there?)

Chapter 1, “Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies” from Jack Halberstam’s In a Queer Time and Place
The is the text in which Halberstam gives us the terminology of “straight time” and “queer time,” upon which Muñoz draws heavily.

“Orientations: Toward a Queer Phenomenology” by Sara Ahmed
If you really want to bake your noodle, this heady piece (published slightly before Cruising Utopia) folds together horizons and objects and being. It’s quite a cocktail of delightful brain-bending. It’s been a minute since I’ve read it, so I won’t do it the injustice of an intro, but I can definitely recommend it if you’re feeling particularly embodied and want to embrace the out of place.

EXAMPLE OF SCHOLARS APPLYING THEORIES OF QUEER UTOPIAS:

Blogger Liam Taft explores the cinematic burst of queer utopias seen in 2017 through his article in tmrw magazine, “Call Me By Your Name and the Idealism of Modern Queer Cinema.”

The gist of Taft’s article is that, instead of relegating queer moments of pleasure to temporary [stolen] and remote [displaced] spaces, three major films released in 2017 invite queer readings toward a utopia and a futurity that their movie predecessors did/could not. Taft offers some excellent close-readings of individual scenes to support this argument. Taft never actually cites Muñoz, but it’s obvious that this pop article is deeply influenced by Cruising Utopia-–if not directly then at least through adjacent conversations. For this reason, I actually think we can push Taft’s ideas farther, and I’m curious to see what you think.

The introduction (or as much of it as Google will give you for free) of Whitney Monaghan’s Queer Girls, Temporality & Screen Media: Not “Just a Phase”
This intro does two things that I really enjoy:

  1. It provides a survey of queer theory and gives a wonderfully succinct and reverent summary of Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia.
  2. It picks up a topic that we’ve already discussed in class: the idea that queerness in teenage girls is just chumming, a phase, a temporal hiccup on the way to heteronormative, temporally linear bioproductivity. Monaghan uses Muñoz’s concepts of ephemera and queer futurity to stage a critical intervention of problematic film/TV representations of teenage girls’ queerness in a way that mirrors our class’s investigation of visual representations of women in general.

THINK ABOUT WAYS TO APPLY IT TO OUR CLASS:

  • How/where/when do we see queer potentiality arise in any of the texts we’ve read so far? Heavenly Creatures is one we’ve already discussed in class.
  • Which characters seem to refuse the here-and-now? Which characters hover in subjunctive or modal verb tenses?
  • How does this allow us to see the potential for pleasure and subjectivity for characters who may not have been written with their own pleasure and subjectivity in mind?
  • How might this offer us a way to write back against trivializing or objectifying representations of murderesses? Queer characters? Characters of color? Those passing through or lingering offstage?