"Number there in love was slain."
"The Phoenix and the Turtle" presents two lovers in whose intensity "neither two nor one was called." In and against its confusion at this wonder, Reason offers up a funeral oration, its "threnos," to close up its subjects in proper being. I identify the "treble-dated" crow as the other chief agent of funerality: it is the figure of an already known past, present, and foreclosed future, a figure of life as inexorable motion towards death ("with the breath thou giv'st and tak'st"); clothed in "sable," it is the chief mourner and hence chief enthusiast for a ritual that accepts and promotes death "as that which gives 'meaning' to life, or is the precondition for the 'true' life of man" (Marcuse, "Ideology of Death"). I argue that the mourners and the poem itself are looking in the wrong place. The Phoenix and Turtledove are not, as Reason declaims, "here enclosed...in cinders"; they are not in the urn over which Reason urges all those "true or fair" to pray. The lovers have "fled / in a mutual flame from hence." By "reject[ing] personhood, a status that the law needs in order to discipline us" (Bersani, Homos), they have slipped from the poem's sad progress. I want to imagine (not identify) the unnamed "bird of loudest lay" of the opening line as an amalgam of Phoenix and Turtledove, who, by slaying number, can sing at their own funeral, unknowable but perhaps not unheard for a procession that wants Reason to have the last word.
As it stands, I'm afraid I've proposed a sort of a boilerplate queer reading, although (I'm almost certain) that it's at least a new interpretation. Since I'm hardly a master of queer theory, or anything, I'm asking for some bibliographic assistance. As you see, I've read the Bersani (both Homos and Forms of Being), but I've yet to read Edelman. Following Michael O'Rourke's suggestion, I read the GLQ "Queer Temporalities" issue. My task might be as simple, and difficult, as reading everything Eileen points to in her Notes Toward an Enamored Medieval Studies, but certainly there's something I'm missing, either on qt or deathism or something else.
Thanks in advance.
I'm a big fan of Sara Ahmed's work--I really like all of it, but lately, her *Queer Phennomenology* is tops with me. If you don't have time for the whole book, her article in GLQ last year takes ideas from throughout the argument (I teach the essay version). She also has a chapter in her book, *The Cultural Politics of Emotion*, on "Queer Feelings," which is excellent. In light of your project, I would also recommend that you have a look at Carla Freccero's *Queer/Early/Modern,* which came out last year. It is not lengthy and it is beautifully written. Chapter 2 also speaks directly to queer theory as it has unfolded in early modern studies, so that might be of particular interest. Her "futures" section, however, is what I find most appealing. Best of luck with the project; it sounds fantastic,
I can't improve on Holly's suggestions, except to say this also cries out for Deleuze and Guattari, but I'm assuming you already know that. Look, also, at Deleuze's earlier writings--collected in "The Deleuze Reader"--on haeccity and on punctual systems [see, especially, the essays "What Is an Event?" and "What Is Multiplicity?"]. I don't think Edelman will help you one way or another in the reading you want do do, but since we're talking Shakespeare here, it would be a good idea to also check out Jonathan Dollimore, especially "Death, Desire, and Loss in Western Culture."
p.s., sorry I can't spell...but also: *forms of Being* has some of this, but I also like Bersani's reflections on "self-shattering" and his discussion of desire as "a lack of being" as it relates to love in Plato's *Symposium*--as I recall, this stuff is in his "Sociality and Sexuality" essay in *Critical Inquiry* a few years ago.
I am going to think about this a little more, but I have to say that one thing I love about Madhavi's collection is that she has tried to bring together scholars who don't necessarily think of themselves as queer theorists and have them use approaches that aren't necessarily already canonized by the church of QT.
Holly, I agree, Ahmed is wonderful -- it's like reader response theory applied to space, and could easily inform the reading of a poem (esp,. in the swerve you want to make away from closure and death, Karl). I would also strongly suggestGloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera, where a language of monstrosity and hybridity is deployed in terms very similar to your own, Karl. Plus she foregrounds poetry in a way that might be useful, or at least provocative.
I hope you'll post more as this develops.
Thanks so much, folks. And thanks especially Holly for your wise sympathy in suggesting pieces on the basis of how quickly I can read them! Much appreciated.
I must say that the birdness of the poem's characters has been bugging me. I suspect Menon recommended I do this poem because of its animals, but since I tend not to handle allegorical animals in my work (bestiaries, badges, fables), I just ignored that aspect in favor of its focus on death.
Perhaps the Anzaldua can help me get the birds back into my reading.
And I will update to ITM when I begin the writing proper, which I expect will be in December...
[I am posting this for Michael O'Rourke.--E.J.]
Rather than overwhelm you with queer theory
bibliography I would suggest Cixous' "Sorties" which
has Shakespeare (Antony & Cleopatra), death, birds,
avian apostrophes, and possibly queerness avant la
lettre (?). Its worth re-reading again and again.
Following on from Eileen's D&G suggestion (birds are
everywhere in the two volumes of Capitalism and
Schizophrenia) I would recommend an essay by Ian
Buchanan on schizoanalysis which critiques Zizek's
reading of Hitchcock's The Birds and the stupidity of
embracing the death drive (easily extendable to
Edelman). I think it was published in Strategies.
I have an extensive shakesQueer bibliography compiled
for a course I taught on gender, sexuality and
Shakespeare around two years ago. Here it is (with
apologies for its datedness):
Gender and Sexuality in Shakespeare: A Select
Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England
(London: Gay Men’s Press, 1982)
Mary Bly, Queer Virgins and Virgin Queans on the Early
Modern Stage (New York and Oxford: Oxford University
Gregory W. Bredbeck, Sodomy and Interpretation:
Marlowe to Milton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
Jonathan Goldberg, Sodometries: Renaissance Texts,
Modern Sexualities (Stanford: Stanford University
Mario DiGangi, The Homoerotics of Early Modern Drama
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)
Bruce Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s
England: A Cultural Poetics (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1991)
Richard Halpern, Shakespeare’s Perfume: Sodomy and
Sublimity in the Sonnets, Wilde, Freud, and Lacan
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002)
Valerie Traub, The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early
Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Paul Hammond, Figuring Sex Between Men from
Shakespeare to Rochester (Oxford and New York: Oxford
University Press: 2002)
Maurice Hunt, “The Backward Voice of Coriol-anus”,
Shakespeare Studies XXXII (2004): 220-239
Stephen Guy-Bray, Homerotic Space: The Poetics of Loss
in Renaissance Literature (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 2002)
Katherine O’Donnell and Michael O’Rourke (eds) Love,
Sex, Friendship and Intimacy Between Men, 1550-1800
(Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003)
Katherine O’Donnell and Michael O’Rourke (eds) Queer
Masculinities, 1550-1800: Siting Same/Sex Desire in
the Early Modern World (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005)
Stephen Orgel, The Authentic Shakespeare and Other
Problems of the Early Modern Stage (New York and
London: Routledge, 2002)
Laurie Shannon, Sovereign Amity: Figures of Friendship
in Shakespearean Contexts (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 2002)
Kathryn Schwarz, Tough Love: Amazon Encounters in the
English Renaissance (Durham: Duke University Press,
Theodora A.Jankowski, Pure Resistance: Queer Virginity
in Early Modern English Drama (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000)
Bruce Smith, Shakespeare and Masculinity (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2000)
Kate Chegzoy, Shakespeare’s Queer Children: Sexual
Politics and Contemporary Culture (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1995)
Michael Keevak, Sexual Shakespeare: Forgery,
Authorship, Portraiture (Detrot: Wayne State
University Press, 2001)
Richard Burt, Unspeakable ShaXXXspeares: Queer Theory
and American Kiddie Culture (New York: St Martins
Goran V. Stanivukovic (ed) Ovid and the Renaissance
Body (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001)
Mario DiGangi, “Reading Homoeroticism in Early Modern
England: Imaginations, Interpretations, Circulations”
Textual Practice 7.3 (1993): 485-498
Bruce R. Smith, “Rape, Rap, Rupture, Rapture: R-Rated
Futures on the Global Market” Textual Practice 9.3
Stephen Orgel, “Nobody’s Perfect: Or, Why Did The
English Stage Take Boys for Women?” in Ronald R.
Butters, John M. Clum and Michael Moon (eds)
Displacing Homophobia: Gay Male Perspectives in
Literature and Culture (Durham: Duke University Press,
Simon Shepherd, “What’s so Funny about Ladies’
Tailors? A Survey of Some Male (Homo)sexual Types in
the Renaissance”, Textual Practice 6.1 (1992): 17-31
Graham M. Hammill, Sexuality and Form: Caravaggio,
Marlowe, and Bacon (Chicago: University of Chicago
Harriet Andreadis, Sappho in Early Modern England:
Female Same/Sex Literary Erotics, 1550-1714 (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2001)
David M. Bergeron, King James & Letters of Homoerotic
Desire (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999)
Bruce Smith, “Premodern Sexualities” PMLA 115.3 (May
Alan Stewart, Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in
Early Modern England (Princeton, N.J: Princeton
University Press, 1997)
Jonathan Goldberg (ed) Queering the Renaissance
(Durham: Duke University Press, 1994)
Paul Hammond, “James I’s Homosexuality and the
Revision of the Flio Text of King Lear” Notes &
Queries 47 (March 1997): 62-64
Richard Burt, “Shakespeare and the Holocaust: Julie
Taymor’s Titus is Beautiful, or Shakesploi Meets (the)
Camp” Colby Quarterly XXXVII. 1 (March 2001): 78-106
Gregory W. Bredbeck, “Tradition and the Individual
Sodomite: Barnfield, Shakespeare, and Subjective
Desire” in Claude J. Summers (ed) Homosexuality in
Renaissance and Enlightenment England: Literary
Representations in Historical Context (New York:
Haworth, 1992) 41-69
Deborah Cartmell, “Franco Zeffirelli and Shakespeare”
in Russell Jackson (ed) The Cambridge Companion to
Shakespearean Film (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Laurie Shannon, “Nature’s Bias: Renaissance
Homonormativity and Elizabethan Comic Likeness” Modern
Philology 98.2 (2000): 183-210
Alan Sinfield, Cultural Politics-Queer Reading
(London: Routledge, 1994)
Jean E, Howard, “The Early Modern and the Homoerotic
Turn in Political Criticism” Shakespeare Studies XXVI
Jonathan Dollimore, “Shakespeare, Cultural
Materialism, Feminism and Marxist Humanism” NLH 21.3
(Spring 1990): 471-495
Deborah Barker and Ivo Kamps (eds) Shakespeare and
Gender: A History (London: Verso, 1995)
Bruce R. Smith, “L[o]cating the Sexual Subject” in
Terence Hawkes (ed) Alternative Shakespeares 2
(London: Routledge, 1996)
Celia R. Daileader, Eroticism on the Renaissance
Stage: Transcendence, Desire and the Limits of the
Visible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
Heather Findlay, “Queerying the English Renaissance”
Diacritics 24.2/3 (1994): 227-237
Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero (eds) Premodern
Sexualities (New York: Routledge, 1996)
Lorna Hutson, The Usurer’s Daughter: Male Friendship
and Fictions of Women in Sixteenth-Century England
(London: Routledge, 1994)
Claude J. Summers (ed) Homosexuality in Renaissance
and Enlightenment England: Literary Representations in
Historical Context (New York: Haworth Press, 1992)
Theodore B. Ledinwand, “Coniugium Interruptum in
Shakespeare and Webster” ELH 72.1 (Spring 2005):
Valerie Traub, Desire and Anxiety: Constructions of
Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama (London: Routledge,
Patricia Parker, Shakespeare from the Margins:
Language, Culture, Context (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1996)
Jeffrey Masten, Textual Intercourse: Collaboration,
Authorship, and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)
Romeo and Juliet
Robert Applebaum, “’Standing to the Wall’: The
Pressures of Masculinity in Romeo and Juliet”
Shakespeare Quarterly 48 (1997): 251-272
Deborah Cartmell, “Shakespeare, Film and Sexuality:
Politically Correct Sexuality in Film Adaptations of
Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing in
Interpreting Shakespeare on Screen (London:
Jonathan Goldberg “Romeo and Juliet’s Open R’s” in
Goldberg (ed) Queering the Renaissance (Durham: Duke
University Press, 1994) 218-235
William Van Watson, “Shakespeare, Zeffirelli, and the
Homosexual Gaze” in Deborah Barker and Ivo Kamps (eds)
Shakespeare and Gender: A History (London: Verso,
As You Like It
Jeffrey Masten, “ Textual Deviance: Ganymede’s Hand in
As You Like it” in Marjorie Garber, Paul Franklin and
Rebecca Walkowitz (eds) Field Work: Sites in Literary
and Cultural Studies (1996), 153-163.
Valerie Traub, “The Homoerotics of Shakespearean
Comedy” and “Desire and the Difference it Makes” in
Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in
Shakespearean Drama (London and New York: Routledge,
1992) 117-144 and 91-116.
Valerie Traub, “The (In)Significance of ‘Lesbian’
Desire in Early Modern England” in Jonathan Goldberg
(ed) Queering theRenaissance (Durham: Duke University
Press, 1994), 62-83.
Elaine Hobby, “’My Affection Hath an Unknown Bottom’:
Homosexuality and the Teaching of As You Like it” in
Lesley Aers and Nigel Wheale (eds) Shakespeare in the
Changing Curriculum (London and New York: Routledge,
Mario DiGangi “Queering the Shakespearean Family”,
Shakespeare Quarterly 47.3 (Fall 1996): 269-291.
Mario DiGangi, “The Homoerotics of Marriage in Ovidian
Comedy”, in The Homoerotics of Early Modern Drama
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 29-63.
The Merchant of Venice
Steve Patterson, “The Bankruptcy of Homoerotic Amity
in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice”, Shakespeare
Quarterly 50.1 (Spring 1999): 9-33.
Alan Sinfield, “How to Read The Merchant of Venice
without being Heterosexiat” in Terence Hawkes (ed)
Alternative Shakespeares: Volume 2(London and New
York: Routledge, 1996), 122-139
James O’Rourke, “Racism and Homophobia in The Merchant
of Venice”, ELH 70.2 (Summer 2003): 375-397.
Joseph Pequiney, “The Two Antonios and Same/Sex Love
in Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice”, in
Deborah Barker and Ivo Kamps (eds) Shakespeare and
Gender: A History (London and New York: Verso, 1995),
Catherine Belsey, “Love in Venice”, in Deborah Barker
and Ivo Kamps (eds) Shakespeare and Gender: A History
(London and New York: Verso, 1995), 196-213.
Keith Geary, “The Nature of Portia’s Victory: Turning
to Men in The Merchant of Venice”, Shakespeare Survey
37 (1984): 55-68.
Robert Matz “Slander, Renaissance Discourses of Sodomy
and Othello”, ELH 66.2 (1999): 261-277
Patricia Parker “Fantasies of ‘Race’ and ‘Gender’:
Africa, Othello, and Bringing to Light” in Women,
“Race” and Writing in the Early Modern Period ed.
Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker (New York:
Patricia Parker “Preposterous Events” Shakespeare
Quarterly 43 (1992): 186-213
Ben Saunders “Iago’s Clyster: Purgation, Anality and
the Civilizing Process” Shakespeare Quarterly 55.2
Bruce R. Smith Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s
England esp. 61-64
Jonathan Dollimore Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to
Wilde, Freud to Foucault esp. 157-162
Arthur L. Little Jr. “’An Essence that’s not Seen’:
The Primal Scene of Racism in Othello” Shakespeare
Quarterly 44 (1987): 304-324
Jonathan Goldberg “Under the Covers with Caliban” in
The Margins of the Text ed. D.C. Greetham (Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1997), 105-128
Nora Johnson “Body and Spirit, Stage and Sexuality in
The Tempest” ELH 64 (1997): 683-703
Colin MacCabe “A Post-National European Cinema: A
Consideration of Derek Jarman’s The Tempest and Edward
II” in Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British
Cinema Ed. Andrew Higson (London: Cassell, 1996),
Derek Jarman (dir) The Tempest (1979)
Peter Greenaway (dir) Prospero’s Books (1991)
The Winter’s Tale
Nora Johnson “Ganymedes and Kings: Staging Male
Homosexual Desire in The Winter’s Tale”, Shakespeare
Studies XXVI (1998): 187-217.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Alan Sinfield “Cultural Materialism and
Intertextuality: The Limits of Queer Reading in A
Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Two Noble Kinsmen”,
Shakespeare Survey 56 (2003): 67-78.
Bruce Boehrer “Economies of Desire in A Midsummer
Night’s Dream”, Shakespeare Studies XXXII (2004):
Bruce Boehrer “Bestial Buggery in A Midsummer Night’s
Dream” in David Lee Miller, Sharon O’Dair and Harold
Weber (eds) The Production of English Renaissance
Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994),
Jonathan Goldberg “Calling out the Law” in Goldberg
Shakespeare’s Hand 79-102.
Valerie Traub “The Homoerotics of Shakespearean
Comedy” in Traub Desire and Anxiety 117-144.
Joseph Pequiney “The Two Antonios and Same/Sex Love in
Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice”, in Deborah
Barker and Ivo Kamps (eds) Shakespeare and Gender: A
History (London and New York: Verso, 1995), 178-195.
Laurie Shannon “Nature’s Bias: Renaissance
Homonormativity and Elizabethan Comic Likeness”,
Modern Philology 98.2 (2000): 183-210.
Jami Ake “Glimpsing a ‘Lesbian’ Poetics in Twelfth
Night” SEL 43.2 (Spring 2003): 375-394.
Venus and Adonis
Goran Stanivukovic “Troping Desire in Shakespeare’s
Venus and Adonis”, Forum for Modern Language Studies
33.4 (1997): 289-301.
Goran Stanivukovic “’Kissing the Boar’: Queer Adonis
and Critical Practice” in Calvin Thomas (ed) Straight
with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of
Heterosexuality (Urbana and Chicago: University of
Illinois Press, 1999), 87-108.
Madhavi Menon, “Spurning Teleology in Venus and
Adonis”, GLQ 11.4 (2005): 491-519.
Michael: wow. Thanks very much. Hope to see you around these blogparts again soon.
You're welcome. Would add that the "foundational" texts on QT and deathism are Bersani's "Is the Recrtum a Grave?", Ellis Hanson's "Undead" in Fuss (ed) Inside/Out, and Butler's "Sexual Inversions" (think that might be in Caputo's collection on Foucault and the Critique of Institutions). Most recently, there's an essay by Jeff Nunokawa (who has an older essay on AIDS in Fuss which might be useful for you)on "Queer Theory: Postmortem" where he re-turns to "Is the Rectum a Grave?". Its in a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly (just out), edited by Andrew Parker and Janet Halley, which focuses on the question "After Sex? On writing Since Queer Theory". Naturally, it raises lots of interesting questions about temporality, beforeness, afterwardness, and even inthemiddleness.
Sorry not to have been around the blogosphere much but watch out for http://ranciere.blogspot. com (devoted to the work of Jacques ranciere) to which I will be contributing.
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