Special Issue: “Queers Read This”: LGBTQ Literature Now
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies
Issue Guest Editors:
Ramzi Fawaz (Assistant Professor, English, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Shanté Paradigm Smalls (Assistant Professor, English, St. John’s University)
Submission Deadline: March 31, 2017
Publication Date: April 2018
Is there such a thing as LGBT literature anymore? Clearly, Lambda Literary still thinks so, recognizing and awarding emergent and established LGBTQ authors annually. Even the prodigious scholarship of queer theorists is now recognized by the organization alongside work in fiction, poetry, autobiography, comics and graphic novels. Yet, as lesbian author and cultural critic Sarah Schulman compellingly points out in The Gentrification of the Mind (2012), the mainstream literary world rarely spotlights the work of out LGBTQ writers who develop substantive fiction, poetics, and drama about equally out and actively sexual characters. If in 1973 gay and straight Americans alike made a lesbian novel like Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle a national bestseller, and if James Baldwin could spend his entire career writing and speaking about the intersections between race, masculinity, and homosexuality throughout the mid-to-late 20th century, in 2015, no book by an out LGBTQ writer can claim such widespread appeal outside a few notable exceptions. In 1991, at the fulcrum of the AIDS epidemic, members of the emergent activist group Queer Nation could hail potential LGBT audiences with a searing polemic titled “QUEERS READ THIS.” One wonders what this injunction would refer to now more than two decades later. Would Gloria Anzuldúa’s and Cherríe Moraga’s foundational Women of Color text, This Bridge Called My Back (1981), have been published and read in today’s market? What exactly should queers read now? How are we reading and writing queer texts? This special issue of GLQ seeks to animate a dialogue about the place, function, and intellectual and political possibilities of LGBT literature now. The “now” we invoke is an injunction or imperative to think about how the history of queer literary production must necessarily be rewritten, reconsidered, and returned to in light of the dramatic historical and scholarly transformations that have shaped queer life since the late 1980s.
In 1996, Eve Sedgwick famously edited a groundbreaking issue of the journal Studies in the Novel titled “Queerer than Fiction,” that laid the foundation for a generation of queer literary interpretation. Arguably one of the first of its kind, this issue identified literature as one powerful site where reparative reading practices takes shape. She and others argued that the act of interpretation itself was a practice through which readers do something ameliorative with texts, making them functional for the flourishing of queer life. At the time of Sedgwick’s writing, queer literary production was clearly under severe pressure from the violent and life-negating experience of AIDS. Since then, queer lifeways, politics, and culture have been dramatically shaken by innumerable historical transformations that overdetermine any attempt to map LGBTQ literature by the traditional coordinates of gay shame, the closet, and narratives of gay liberation, and AIDS. LGBTQ literary production and history has been undoubtedly shaped, revised, and potentially undone by the AIDS epidemic; but also by 9/11, the advent of the digital era, mass incarceration, a more intimate relation with state power through the push for hate crimes legislation, the protracted struggle over gay marriage, gays in the military, and the ascendancy of transgender identity and rights in queer politics. We name these historical markers in order to indicate the new conditions under which queer literary production today takes place. How have these emergent historical events and forces shaped our reading practices, the texts being produced, and the market conditions under which contemporary queer literature is read, written, and taught? How do they unsettle, or force us to rewrite queer literary pasts?
We ask for essays that explore how new theoretical interventions in the study of literary history might offer tools for queer theory; at the same time, we seek to develop a dialogue about the value, appeal, and purchase of an identifiable, and ever-growing, LGBTQ literary sphere. In so doing, we seek innovative approaches to the study of queer literary formations that deploy multi-disciplinary analytics including, but not necessarily limited to, critical interpretation and close reading, ethnographic research, first-person accounts of reading practices, materialist histories of print media, and phenomenological accounts of the texture and feel of queer reading and writing, without presuming divisions between these methods. Queer theorists have developed numerous conceptual tools for the study of sexuality through engagement with classical and contemporary LGBT literary texts. Ironically, the major scholarly texts of queer theory have oftentimes become more popular and widely read than the actual literary products queer theorists analyze. We seek papers that can illuminate both the stakes of LGBT literary formation in the contemporary moment, as well the complex relationship that queer theory has to both helping forge, shape, and often, volatilize the very notion of LGBT literature and literary history. We seek to ask, what is LGBT literature now? And what kinds of stories, theories, and politics can it produce in the age of queer theorizing?
We seek essays on these possible topics:
LGBTQ Literature after AIDS
Queer Fan Fiction
New Queer Literary Histories
Queer YA Literature
“Street” Lit and Queerness
LGBTQ Lit and Publishing
Prisons, Jails, Mass Incarceration and Queer Lit
Trans*, GNC Lit
Queer Lit Reading Groups
Digital Cultures and the Circulation of LGBTQ Literature
Porn, Plot What Plot (PWP), Smut
Women of Color Writing
Sentiment and Nostalgia
Queer Lit post-9/11
Publishing and LGBTQ audiences
Queer Lit as Queer Theory
Submit essays to firstname.lastname@example.org as an electronic attachment in Microsoft Word with subject heading “Queers Read This” Special Issue. All e-mails should be addressed to Managing Editor, GLQ. Do not submit previously published articles without the permission of the editors. Do not simultaneously offer your article to another publication. All lines should be double-spaced (including lines in the notes), with 1.5-inch left and right margins. Articles should not exceed 10,000 words; images count as 450 words. Please include a 500 word abstract at the beginning of your submission. To maintain anonymity in the review process, put names, affiliations, and mailing addresses on a separate title page. Citations to an author’s own works should be made in a way that does not compromise anonymity. GLQ uses The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition, as its main reference. Articles use a reference list and in-text author-date citations for documentation. Follow Chicago, chapter 15, for the form of all citations. Endnotes are reserved for author commentary, and it’s OK if that author commentary includes in-text citations.
For questions, please contact the issue editors:
Ramzi Fawaz: fawaz AT wisc DOT edu
Shanté Paradigm Smalls: shantesmalls AT gmail DOT com