Queer Anachronisms and the Question of History
By far my favorite panel at the MLA this year, this session on queer temporality and historiography was chaired by Kathryn Bond Stockton (Univ. of Utah).
Kadji Amin (Columbia Coll., IL) presented his work “Anachronizing the Penitentiary, Queering History,” on Jean Genet, and how the homosexual cultures within prisons queer our notions of gay identity as a post-Stonewall phenomenon. I can’t think of Genet and jail without picturing the seductive scenes from his short film Un Chant D’amour.
Since Amin is so close in Chicago, I am trying to find the appropriate excuse to bring him to Milwaukee.
Heather K. Love, (Univ. of Pennsylvania) presented “Spinster Time (‘U Can’t Touch This’),” a reading of the film Notes on a Scandal starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. As a sexually repressed spinster, Dench represents one of Love’s abjected outsider figures, filled with excess emotions that unsettle and disturb.
Finally, Elizabeth Freeman, (Univ. of California, Davis) spoke on “Anachronicles; or, Steampunking Queer Theory.” Freeman’s style really strikes a chord with me, it’s smart, fast-paced, and engaging. Steampunk presents a stylish way to eroticize fucking with time along the lines Freeman details in Time Binds. Since femme gender presentation is my “temporal drag” of choice, the particularities of this argument did not really appeal to me but it was entertaining to see how the lively tone of Freeman’s writing translated into an oral presentation.