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Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick: General IntroductionHer personal homepage: http://www.duke.edu/~sedgwic/
Her Work • Between Men: English Literature & Homosocial Desire ‘the immanence of men’s same-sex bonds, and their prohibitive structuration, to male-female bonds in 19th century English lit.” (EC 15) • Male-male desire routed through triangular relations involving a woman. • The book ends with a coda pointing towards “The gaping and unbridgeable rift in the male homosocial spectrum” at the end of the 19th century, after which the discussion of male homosocial desire as a whole gives way to a discussion of male homosexuality and homophobia as we know them.”
Her Work • Epistemology of the Closet– • Follows up on the conclusion of the previous book to discuss the 20th century homosexuality and same-sex desire. • Focuses more on sexuality than on gender; more distinctly anti-homophobic than feminist; • Its introduction “explores relations between queer studies and women's studies, lesbian identities and gay male identities, essentialist and constructivist assumptions about nature and nurture, and so on.” • A Dialogue on Love (《與愛對話》)
the seven axioms: • 1. People are different from each other (22). • 2. The study of sexuality is not coextensive with the study of gender; correspondingly, antihomophobic inquiry is not coextensive with feminist inquiry. But we can't know in advance how they will be different (27). • 3. There can't be an a priori decision about how far it will make sense to conceptualize lesbian and gay male identities together. Or separately (36). • (source: http://www.lawrence.edu/dept/english/courses/60A/handouts/axioms.html )
the seven axioms: • 4. The immemorial, seemingly ritualized debates on nature versus nurture take place against a very unstable background of tacit assumptions and fantasies about both nature and nurture (40). • 5. The historical search for a Great Paradigm Shift may obscure the present conditions of sexual identity (44). • 6. The relation of gay studies to debates on the literary canon is, and had best be, tortuous (48). • 7. The paths of allo-identification are likely to be strange and recalcitrant. So are the paths of auto-identification (59).
The Closet • 1990 「當時熱烈展開的同性戀身分認同政治把『出櫃』當成唯一的而且單純的運動策略和行動，而在這個行動中僵化、簡化、凍結了身分認同的多樣流動內涵及複雜運作」（何 27﹚ • 『圍繞著性暗櫃的緘默在實際的層面上和語言一樣的有針對性和操演性。』(“The fact that silence is rendered as pointed and performative as speech, in relations around the closet, depends on and highlights the more broadly the fact that ignorance is as potent and as multiple a thing there as is knowledge. 4 )
The Closet • For Sedgwick the closet is “…the defining structure for gay oppression in this century.” She believes that, contrary to recent usage of “coming out of the closet” by other minority groups, the closet is “…quite indelibly marked with the historical specificity of homosocial/homosexual definition….” . . . • Sedgwick sets up the closet as an undeniably important aspect of being gay. She then considers the historical construction of a gay identity that lead to the creation of, or need for, a closet.(source: http://transmet.org/~aj/words/gay_and_lesbian_class/closet.doc)
Some Related Issues: breaking binary distinctions • silence and ignorance ignorance is "as potent and multiple a thing as knowledge”; “Ignorance and opacity collude or compete with knowledge in mobilizing the flows of energy, desire, goods, meaning, persons.” (4) • in later articles, she discusses the affects of ‘shame’ in queer performance.
Contradictions & incoherence in gay identities • Based on the combination of • minoritizing view, which states that there is a “distinct population of persons who really are gay” and • the universalizing view, which states “that sexual desire is an unpredictably powerful solvent of stable identities” and thus that heterosexual persons are marked by same sex desires. (1, 9, 82-86) • study this incoherence.
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ • Tendencies 有別於 Judith Butler所推出的『性別操演』以及她所帶動的對戲劇化、視覺化的性別操演的看重， • S 提出『酷兒操演』的概念，以顯示酷兒的實踐如何和操演（口說事成Speech Act﹚語言一樣，產生各式各樣的效應、強制的效應、引誘的效應、挑戰的效應。 • 性別操演理論「常常陷身辨明『真－假』的情節中，為了努力斷定何種操演的行動或論述才有『真正的』顛覆作用……而反覆輾轉… • 建議我們脫出第一人稱中心的知識論架構，轉向與酷兒操演和酷兒認同最相關的感情動力架構，並指出『羞辱』這個心理動能在各個社會運動發展史中的重要生產位置…」（何29-30﹚
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ • Butler uses this distinction to analyze statements like "I am a man" or "I am a lesbian," insisting that such statements, which might appear to be "constantives," are really "performatives" through and through. • EC: S analyzes the "performative effects" of a wide range of statements--some of which are homophobic and some of which are anti-homophobic.
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ • “Shame and Performativity: Henry James's New York Edition Prefaces” • But I'm also very interested in how central the concept of exposure is to her and other anti-essentialist projects: exposure of hidden assumptions, exposure of contradictions. If this exposure is a purely epistemological project, then from where is its political or motivational efficacy, its performative force, supposed to derive.
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ • “speech act”: from “I do” to “Shame on you,”a useful utterance from which to begin imagining queer performativity. • “I do”in marriage ceremony a communal act (‘we’ testify and agree.) • “There is a "you" but there is no "I"--or rather, forms of the inexplicit "I" constantly remain to be evoked from the formulation "Shame on you." They can be evoked in different ways. The absence of an explicit verb from "Shame on you" records the place in which an I, in conferring shame, has effaced itself and its own agency.”
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ Shame • shame effaces itself; shame points and projects; shame turns itself skin side outside; shame and pride, shame and dignity, shame and self-display, shame and exhibitionism are different interlinings of the same glove: shame, it might finally be said, transformational shame, is performance. I mean theatrical performance.
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ Shame & Identity • In interrupting identification, shame, too, makes identity. In fact shame and identity remain in very dynamic relation to one another, at once deconstituting and foundational, because shame is both peculiarly contagious and peculiarly individuating. • Shame identity; guilt action
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ Shame as a strategy • E.g. a range of movements that deal with shame variously in the form of, for instance, • the communal dignity of the civil rights movement; • the individuating pride of "Black is Beautiful" and gay pride; • various forms of nativist ressentiment; • the menacingly exhibited abjection of the skinhead; • the early feminist experiments with the naming and foregrounding of anger as a response to shame; • the incest survivors' movement's epistemological stress on truth-telling about shame
Some Related Issues: ‘queer performantivity’ Shame as a strategy • The forms taken by shame are not distinct "toxic" parts of a group or individual identity that can be excised; they are instead integral to and residual in the processes by which identity itself is formed. They are available for the work of metamorphosis, reframing, refiguration, transfiguration, affective and symbolic loading and deformation; but unavailable for effecting the work of purgation and deontological closure.