Book Volume 4
Page: i-ii (2)
Author: J. HALBERSTAM
Page: iii-vii (5)
Author: BRONWYN DAVIES
Page: viii-ix (2)
Author: BRONWYN DAVIES
Page: 1-8 (8)
Author: KERRY H. ROBINSON and CRISTYN DAVIES
Full text available
Page: 9-22 (14)
Author: Judith Jack Halberstam
For Halberstam, the alternative resides in a creative engagement with subjugated histories, an ecstatic investment in the subcultural and a defiant refusal of a dominant model of theory—one that Halberstam considers to be at odds with cultural studies—which devotes itself to the production of ever more detailed maps of the hegemonic and to a particular mode of disciplinary authority. In keeping with her earlier work on the gaps and fissures in dominant masculinity expressed as female masculinity or the disruptions of normative uses of time and space expressed by subcultural actors, and in recognition of the work represented here in this volume, Halberstam argues for more serious engagement with subjugated knowledges, tries to enact a current of public intellectualism that she calls ‘low theory,’ and argues for the necessity of producing both alternative knowledge formations and their archives.
Page: 23-55 (33)
Author: Cristyn Davies
This chapter imagines performance art as queer time and space. Performance art not only contests normative structures of traditional theatrical performance, but also challenges understandings of normative subjects, and the relation of the arts to structures of power. Focusing on two performances: Australian performance artist Elena Knox’s solo show, Lapdog, which fuses cabaret with poetry and physical performance, and Spiegeltent Productions’ global theatrical phenomenon, La Clique, inspired by cabaret, new burlesque, circus and contemporary vaudeville, Davies explores narratives of resistance, counterdiscourses, and alternative imaginings of gender, sexuality and socio-cultural life. In her performance of Lapdog, Knox attends to gender, sexuality and class as these categories affect the position of women in the service industries. Her persona is a Barbie doll that breaks free from her box, but still perpetually imagines herself elsewhere while she undertakes the mundane tasks required by the various apparatus of her ‘outfit.’ Throughout her performance she develops subversive techniques resisting the politics of consumption, while drawing attention to the heteronormative framework in which she has been designed to excel. Performed on a larger scale, La Clique includes two pin-striped, pipe-smoking, acrobatic English gents in bowler hats, an erotically charged bathtub acrobat, and an American hula hoop act in which the performer subverts the notion of patriotism by playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ through vaginal contractions. In this tent of mirrors, performers queer normative boundaries through challenging bodily acts and practices to entertain, mesmerize and provide an audience with an alternative, seductive and chaotic imaginary world. Elizabeth Stephens responds to this chapter.
Page: 56-81 (26)
Author: Kellie Burns
This chapter brings Braidotti’s (1994) discussion of mothers, monsters and machines together with Halberstam’s (1995) discussion of the gothic monster in the slasher film genre to rethink representations of the lesbian mother in popular culture. It positions the lesbian maternal body within a broad set of discourses that conjoin the figure of the mother with the figure of the monster. The discussion begins with Tina Kennard’s expectant maternal body in Season Two of the television serial The L Word, highlighting the contradictions her ‘monstrous’ lesbian maternal body calls up for queer viewers. Her pregnant body, which is highly sexualized throughout Season Two, challenges the norms of motherhood and disrupts mainstream images of the fetishized lesbian subject. At the same time, however, her experiences of becoming a mother uphold many of the traditional values of domesticity and reproduction and unashamedly construct the lesbian mother as part of an elite, urban, cosmopolitan set. Braidotti’s nomadic reading of mothers, monsters and machines troubles viewers’ desires to read Tina’s body as entirely normative or necessarily transgressive. This critical framework opens up a place to ask how her pregnant body refuses teleological linkages and relinquishes fixed sexed/gendered identities in favour of contradictions and flux. Halberstam’s framework for understanding the gothic monster extends our reading of Tina’s body, pressing viewers to consider the ways in which some textual representations ‘splatter’ gender/sex binaries and refuse to recuperate what is in excess or lost in the act of ‘splattering.’ Katrina Schlunke provides a response to this chapter.
Page: 82-109 (28)
Author: Robert Payne
This chapter explores a set of conceptual relations between ‘the grid,’ understood as an organizing structure for subjectivity and urban spaces, and subcultural identities and practices. In this context of metaphoric grid structures, the discussion is concerned with addressing the legibility and recognizability of instances of time or space that operate within subcultural practice to destabilize cultural and sexual norms. The discussion first reflects on the location and temporality of an example of street art in New York in terms of its skewed spatial relation to that city’s grid map, questioning how the work’s unsettling of conventional ideas of cultural production can speak to the spatial and temporal organization of place, property and propriety. In the second section, a reading of John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus provides a means to imagining a time and space of queer possibility within the grid failure of short-circuit and black-out. Using the film’s literal rendering of these metaphors, the chapter argues that Mitchell’s depiction of a salon of queer subcultural convergence evades heteronormative narratives of time and space and instead highlights the priority and the productivity of the immeasurable momentary. Finally, building from the impetus of this concept of productive failure, the potential of queer theory to release academic subjects from the strictures imposed by narratives of professional progress and institutional affiliation is considered, ultimately questioning queer theory’s complicity in establishing further normative grids that may also stymie the legibility and recognizability of those operating at the margins of academia. Melissa Jane Hardie provides a response to this chapter.
CHILDHOOD AS A ‘QUEER TIME AND SPACE’: ALTERNATIVE IMAGININGS OF NORMATIVE MARKERS OF GENDERED LIVES
Page: 110-139 (30)
Author: Kerry H. Robinson
Taking up Judith Halberstam’s call for alternative imaginings to current ways of being, this chapter explores childhood as a potentially queer ‘counterpublic’ (Fraser, 1992). Childhood is perceived as a time and space in which performances of gender and “the conventional logics of development, maturity, adulthood and responsibility” (Halberstam, 2005, p. 13) can be disrupted, allowing a space in which more flexible and fluid ways of being the child, as well as being gendered and sexual subjects more generally, are potentially possible. However, children’s normative behaviours are highly regulated and policed in their everyday lives by adults and other children. Moral panic often prevails when normative values, especially heteronormative values, are transgressed. Childhood is thus a critical period in which the characteristics of the ‘appropriate’ and ‘good’ adult citizen are instilled and nurtured—discursively constituted in white, middle-class, heteronormative, Christian morals and values. It is argued that childhood innocence is an essential commodity in this process, as well as in the construction of child and adult subjects, in maintaining the boundaries between the adult and the child, and in constituting socio-cultural relations of power. Consequently, alternative imaginings of childhood and alternative performances of gender in children are rendered highly problematic. Based on focus groups with children and interviews with early childhood educators, childhood is highlighted as a time and space in which children are interpellated as heteronormative subjects and heteronormative gendered discourses associated with love, marriage and relationships are consolidated and perpetuated. Sue Saltmarsh provides a response to this chapter.
Page: 140-167 (28)
Author: Kerry H. Robinson and Kate Crawford
In her essay ‘Pixarvolt—Animation and Revolt’ (2007), Judith Jack Halberstam argues that certain films in the canon of contemporary animated features offer us visions of powerfully transformed worlds. In such films as Over the Hedge and Finding Nemo, traditional normative structures are displaced in acts of revolution and transformation. These narrative themes, in Halberstam’s view, are rarely given such centrality in films explicitly made for adults. The recent box office success of Pixar’s Wall-E attests to the continued popularity of animated children’s films amongst adults, a phenomenon which is cited in the popular media as a disturbing threat to ‘real’ adulthood. This chapter analyses how adulthood as a cultural category has been ordered according to the spatial and temporal scheduling of labour and reproduction, and assesses whether ‘Pixarvolt’ films represent a challenge to these schema. By building on Halberstam’s idea of ‘queer time’ as an alternative to the heteronormative frameworks of adulthood (Halberstam, 2005) and Rosi Braidotti’s work on nomadic becoming (2006), this chapter maps out the evolving imaginaries of adulthood in late modernity. Peter Bansel provides a response to this chapter.
Page: 168-191 (24)
Author: Susanne Gannon
This chapter looks at queer places and times on Summer Heights High, the hit Australian television mockumentary. The success of the program pivots on the credibility of the performances of actor Chris Lilley as 16-year-old schoolgirl (Ja’mie King), 13-yearold Tongan schoolboy (Jonah Takalua) and drama teacher Mr G. Although Lilley’s performances can be read as ‘drag’ in their subversion and exaggeration of sex and gender norms, the chapter argues that beyond the bodies of Jonah and Ja’mie, subversive imaginaries are enacted in the narrative through two minor characters, Ofa and Tamsin. The student characters are traced through a series of scenes that take place in the very queer places of the boys’ toilets, the Year 11 formal and ‘Polyday’ celebrations. Gannon suggests that the excessive performances of the characters draw attention to sexuality, gender, class and race in secondary schools, and not only to the operations of these striations of identity but also to their instability and contingency. This chapter details normative structures and processes as manifested and subverted in Summer Heights High. It considers the ambiguities of parody, where Lilley articulates homophobia and racism at the same time as they are critiqued. It examines the operations of drag to show how Lilley’s performances of race and gender demonstrate that these are not sutured to particular bodies. Bronwyn Davies provides a response to this chapter.
Page: 192-221 (30)
Author: Aleardo Zanghellini
This chapter takes up Halberstam’s invitation to creatively engage with subjugated knowledges, and does so for the specific purpose of rethinking gay intimacy. Models of gay male intimacy appear to be largely polarized between a heteronormative quasi-marital paradigm and a counter-normative hedonistic one. Engaging with texts belonging to the yaoi subculture—a genre of Japanese comics and animation characterized by a thematic focus on male same sex desire, but produced by heterosexual women for a heterosexual female audience—may help us promote an intrinsically valuable diversity of practices of intimacy. The epistemological horizon provided by yaoi involves intriguing and significant differences from the marital and hedonistic models of mainstream gay culture across two main understandings of ‘intimacy’: intimacy as sex and intimacy as familiarity. Furthermore yaoi, being produced by women for women, is perhaps more likely to reflect an understanding of male same sex intimacy premised on an ethics of care when compared to the models of intimacy emerging from within gay male culture. If the marital and hedonistic models reflect, in different ways, a quintessentially male way of conceptualizing intimacy, then decentring their dominance and making space for alternative scripts such as those offered by yaoi may enrich our conceptualizations of intimacy and afford a more balanced (less gendered) range of options in the realm of relationality. Subjugated knowledges such as yaoi may offer normative and aesthetic horizons alternative to mainstream Gay, enabling the project of re-envisioning male same sex intimacy. Kane Race provides a response to this chapter.
Page: 222-222 (1)
Author: Kerry H. Robinson and Cristyn Davies
Page: 223-226 (4)
Author: Kerry H. Robinson, Cristyn Davies and CRISTYN DAVIES
Page: 227-229 (3)
Author: Kerry H. Robinson, Cristyn Davies and CRISTYN DAVIES
Queer and Subjugated Knowledges: Generating Subversive Imaginaries makes an invaluable contribution to gender and sexuality studies, engaging with queer theory to reconceptualize everyday interactions. The scholars in this book respond to J. Halberstam’s call to engage in alternative imaginings to reconceptualize forms of being, the production of knowledge, and envisage a world with different sites for justice and injustice. The recent work of cultural theorist, Judith Halberstam, makes new investments in the notion of the counter-hegemonic, the subversive and the alternative. For Halberstam, the alternative resides in a creative engagement with subjugated histories, an ecstatic investment in the subcultural and a defiant refusal of a dominant model of theory. Working across Rhetoric and Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Performance Studies, Television and Media Studies, Animation, Sociology, History, Social Policy, Childhood Studies, Education, and Cultural Geography, this unique interdisciplinary text aimed at academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students provides challenging new frameworks for generating knowledge.
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