There are still a couple of weeks to submit an abstract for the panel I’m co-chairing with Balaka Basu at NeMLA 2015, “Queer/Geek: Theorizing the Convergence of Fandom, Camp, and other Deviances.” Here’s the CFP:
46th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association
April 30 – May 3, 2015
From “These Charming X-Men” by Adam Villacin, 2014.
The queer-, trans-, and geek-focused webcomic “Riot Nrrd” once joked about how disorienting it was to be at a geeky convention because there was no way to tell from the attendees’ appearance whether they were queer or just straight nerds. This confusion between identities points toward a much larger convergence of queer and geek cultures. Practices such as cosplay, fanfic (particularly slash), the foundation of homosocial communities (as with gamers) and other forms of geek/fan labor closely resemble those of camp, drag, and what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick calls “reparative reading.” In fact, Sedgwick paves the way for this convergence with her suggestion that “queer” need not necessarily imply gay or lesbian but perhaps does fundamentally refer to shame, stigma, and practices of responding to those feelings with exuberant, performative adventures and deep attachment to cultural objects as resources of self-making and survival—especially in a world inimical to the people who do not conform to its expectations. Non mainstream sexual and gender expression, as well as creative experiments with post-human and other transformative identities or alter-egos, comprise important elements of various geek cultures. Meanwhile, the canard of the “fake geek girl” (like the pejorative “fag,” when applied to nerds and other outsiders in order to emasculate) reveals the deep strains of misogyny—as well as homophobia and white supremacy—that also run through geek culture. We seek papers that theorize queer and geek subcultures, identities, and practices with regard to their intersecting possibilities.
Please submit 300-500 word abstracts and a brief CV through the NeMLA website here: https://nemla.org/convention/2015/cfp.html#cfp15202
I have a lot of feelings about Morrissey
Thanks to Danica Savonick, Duncan Faherty, and Eric Lott for putting together such a wonderful event with Critical Karaoke!
The panel Meridith Kruse and I put together for NeMLA, “Wet Theory: Creative Writing as Affective Lever in Feminist and Queer Criticism,” was a wonderful experience. We lost a couple of presenters on the way, which made room for longer papers and an delightfully rich, convivial discussion during the Q&A. My one-time classmate and all-around fascinating person Balaka Basu asked some great questions about the teachability of fan-ishness in queer theory and the relationship between reparative reading and geekery more broadly.
My one regret was that I didn’t get to talk more with some of the people in the audience, especially the guy with the magnificent beard sitting house right and his companion. So consider this my NeMLA Missed Connections: If by any remote chance either of you ever sees this post, please click the owl on the right and get in touch!
Searching for myself on Project MUSE to find my review of Drinking History, I discovered that a paper I gave at the inaugural C19 conference in 2010 was mentioned in ESQ’s “The Year in Conferences.” You have to log in to see the whole thing, but all it says about me is:
In “Camp Encyclopedias and Reparative Imaginings in Moby-Dick,” Alec Magnet used the reparative reading theories of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and the object relations theory of Melanie Klein to explore Ishmael’s “campy” descriptive exuberance in Moby-Dick. Ishmael’s “omniscient exhaustiveness” attempts to defer the void represented by the white whale, modeling vitality and appreciation despite the terror and death ever present on the Pequod.
My review of Andrew F. Smith’s Drinking History: Fifteen Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages has just come out in The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 111.2. The Register is one of the oldest historical journals in the U.S., and I’m excited to appear in it. Read on Project MUSE or as a PDF.