Introduction: Antinormativity's Queer Conventions
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<jats:p>Can queer theory proceed without an allegiance to antinormativity? The introduction to this special issue establishes the value of this question by staging an encounter with the most widely held assumption in queer theory today: that the political value of the field lies in its antinormative commitments. The first section of this introduction demonstrates how profoundly the history of queer theorizing has been shaped by an antinormative sensibility, one that has organized the multiple and at times discordant itineraries of analysis that comprise the queer theoretical archive into a field-forming synthesis. In part 2, the authors offer a more studied consideration of the character of norms. By articulating the difference between a norm and the terms that often define it—domination, homogenization, exclusion, hegemony, identity, or more colloquially, the familiar, status quo, or routine—this section demonstrates the importance of renewing queer theoretical attention to the conceptual and political particularity of normativity as a distinct object of inquiry. The authors’ aim is not to dismiss the political agenda that antinormativity has come to represent for queer inquiry, but to channel some of the field’s energies toward analyzing the critical authority it now wields. This entails promoting scholarship that not only rethinks the meaning of norms, normalization, and the normal but that also imagines new ways to approach the politics of queer criticism altogether. In the final section, the authors describe the specific contribution of each of the volume’s essays to this endeavor.</jats:p>
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Robyn Wiegman is Professor of the Programs in Literature and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, and former Margaret Taylor Smith director of Women's Studies at Duke University (2001-2007). She earned her Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Washington in 1988 and has taught at Syracuse University, Indiana University, and the University of California, Irvine. Her publications include two monographs---Object Lessons (2012) and American Anatomies: Theorizing Race and Gender (1995)---and five edited collections---Who Can Speak: Identity and Critical Authority (1995), Feminism Beside Itself (1995), AIDS and the National Body (1997), The Futures of American Studies (2002), and Women's Studies on Its Own (2002). Wiegman's research interests include feminist theory, queer theory, American Studies, critical race theory, and film and media studies. She was co-director of the Dartmouth Summer Institute on American Studies from 1998-2004 and director of Women's Studies at UC-Irvine from 1997-2000. She has two monographs in progress: Racial Sensations, on affect and anti-racist aesthetics, and Arguments Worth Having, on key debates in feminist and queer theory, and has recently curated a special issue on "autotheory" for Arizona Quarterly. She has forthcoming essays and interviews in Feminist Studies, Feminist Theory, SAQ, and differences. In 2013 she received the Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Graduate School at Duke University. In 2015, she was a Fulbright visiting lecturer in Naples, Italy where she taught "Love and Sex in American Literature" at L'Orientale University.
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