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Reading the Queer Renaissance

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Title: Reading the Queer Renaissance
Author(s): McRuer, Robert George
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Berube, Michael
Department / Program: English
Discipline: English
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): American Studies Women's Studies Literature, American
Abstract: "Reading the Queer Renaissance" puts a name to the unprecedented outpouring of creative work by lesbian and gay novelists, poets, and playwrights in the 1980s and 90s, and articulates this efflorescence of queer creativity to the contemporary "renaissance" of radical gay and lesbian political analysis. This project thereby resists the characteristic ideological connotations carried by the term "renaissance," linking it instead to contemporary writers' citation of earlier moments in the twentieth century when lesbians and gay men came together to critique the systemic oppression of homosexuality and to reshape identities across differences. Hence, this is not a renaissance at all, if renaissances are understood--as they traditionally are--as securing a "great nation's" cultural position through "transcendence" of that nation's historical location; instead, it is a queer renaissance rooted in particular communities' histories and struggles. Throughout, I analyze various queer identities enacted by some of the texts I see as central to the Queer Renaissance. My first chapter reads Audre Lorde's Zami: A New Spelling of My Name alongside Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story and considers how Zami redefines the parameters of the coming-out story in order to posit a "self" defined in and through others. My second chapter engages with African-American theories of signification and suggests that Randall Kenan's A Visitation of Spirits effects a queer trickster identity able to upset hierarchies of power and transform even the supposed "margins" of the queer world. Chapter 3 focuses on Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera and argues that Anzaldua's "new mestiza" crosses the border not to escape identity and history, but rather, to challenge the unchecked mobility of oppressive systems of power. Finally, my fourth chapter juxtaposes Tony Kushner's Angels in America and Sarah Schulman's People in Trouble and considers how the critical aesthetic that is at play in the Queer Renaissance shapes, and has been shaped by, liminal sexual and activist "identities in a crisis." In the epilogue, I conclude that the Queer Renaissance is ongoing despite, and indeed in the face of, the recent rise of gay neoconservatism and of studies seeking to ground homosexuality in biology.
Issue Date: 1995
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/19761
Rights Information: Copyright 1995 McRuer, Robert George
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9624436
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9624436
 

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