In continued recognition of the financial changes that many libraries face as a result of COVID-19, for the second year in a row, Duke University Press will maintain existing prices for the 2022 calendar year for our journals and select electronic collection products.
Pricing will remain unchanged for the e-Duke Books and e-Duke Journals collections, DMJ 100, Euclid Prime, and direct journal subscriptions (with the exception of Prism, which will increase in frequency in 2022). Detailed information is available at dukeupress.edu/libraries. If your library has a custom deal, the library relations team will be in touch in August to confirm your renewal pricing.
Duke University Press is pleased to announce the addition of Agricultural History to its 2022 list. Agricultural History, founded in 1927, is the journal of record in its field, publishing articles on all aspects of the history of agriculture and rural life with no geographical or temporal limits. It is published quarterly on behalf of the Agricultural History Society. Agricultural History will be included in the e-Duke Journals Expanded collection.
Demography, the flagship journal of the Population Association of America, joined Duke University Press earlier this year and is now available open access. Demography’s platinum open-access funding model relies entirely on financial support from libraries and research centers. Learn how your institution can contribute.
Beginning in 2022, Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature will publish an annual monographic supplement, in addition to its biannual issues, increasing the journal frequency from two to three issues per volume.
Open Access Community Investment Program launches to support OA publishing
Duke University Press is pleased to partner with LYRASIS and Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access (TSPOA) to launch the Open Access Community Investment Program, a project that matches libraries, consortia, and other prospective scholarly publishing funders with nonprofit publishers and journals seeking financial investments to support open-access publishing. Environmental Humanities, an open-access journal published by Duke University Press, is participating in the project’s pilot phase. Learn more about funding through TSPOA.
Annals of Mathematics joins Project Euclid
The Annals of Mathematics, one of the world’s leading mathematics journals, will be hosted on the Project Euclid platform beginning with the 2022 publication year. The Annals is published by the Department of Mathematics at Princeton University with the cooperation of the Institute for Advanced Study. Duke University Press will manage subscription fulfillment and hosting in coordination with Project Euclid.
Scholarly Publishing Collective
Beginning in 2022, Duke University Press will provide journal services including subscription management, fulfillment, hosting, and institutional marketing and sales in a collaboration called the Scholarly Publishing Collective. Partner publishers include Longleaf Services, Michigan State University Press, Penn State University Press, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the University of Illinois Press. Pricing for titles that are part of the Scholarly Publishing Collective will be announced in July 2021.
What is your professional background, and how did you come to be involved with GLQ? What drew you to the journal?
CRS: I am a writer and professor with training in media and cultural studies and working broadly in the fields of Black studies, queer studies, and transgender studies. I am also involved in movements that work for the liberation of Black, queer and trans lives. I first encountered GLQ as an undergraduate women and gender studies major, and the journal has been a recurring touchpoint in my formal and political education. My first publication in GLQ underscores that point, as I was honored to write a short piece of reflection for the 25th anniversary of Cathy Cohen’s noted essay, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” (GLQ, 1997). Cohen’s essay, to my mind, remains a key example of how queer studies has always had a deep relationship with queer activism.
There were many reasons I was drawn to the journal. It is an honor to serve the field in this capacity, and I feel fortunate to have served alongside Jennifer DeVere Brody and Marcia Ochoa. I greatly admired and am inspired by the editors and editorial team at GLQ and was eager to experience the sociality of queer scholarship through editorial and curatorial work. I also value the short form—the article—as a writing and thinking exercise.
JDB: The editorial team was eager to solidify intellectual connections between Black, queer, and trans studies and we looked to C. Riley Snorton’s scholarship as a model. His contribution for our 25th anniversary issue commented on the most cited essay by Cathy Cohen and we all knew him to be a superb collaborator. It is a joy to work with him and the editorial collective that now meets regularly on Zoom.
What is your vision for GLQ—how do you hope to shape the journal into the future?
CRS: I’ll start by expressing a shared sensibility among the members of the editorial team to highlight scholarship that extends beyond North American (settler colonial) understandings of sex and sexuality.
I have always thought that queer studies (and Black studies and trans studies, for that matter) can be useful for understanding any sort of phenomena, that is that it is a lens for thinking about power, geography, representation, race, feeling, gender, capital, etc., etc. I am also eager to explore the ways GLQ exists beyond print form, whether that’s by hosting incubators for early career scholars, contributing to or producing podcasts, or deepening our online presence.
JDB: Indeed, we hope to think more about other modes of scholarly engagement and incorporating even more visual, sonic, and interactive events.
What recent topics has the journal covered?Are there forthcoming topics or special issues you’re looking forward to?
CRS: I am proud that my time as coeditor coincides with the release of “Cuir/Queer Américas,” a multilingual conversation happening across multiple journals and multiple countries which represents a culmination of the vision of a collective of scholars (including former coeditor Marcia Ochoa) working on queerness and trans* among Latinx and in the Caribbean and across Latin America.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
CRS: It has been rewarding to work with every member of the editorial team—the State of the Field editors, Books-in-Brief editor, Moving Image, and the associate editors who all bring their vision and expertise to bear on the journal. I am also profoundly grateful to Liz Beasley, GLQ’s managing editor, who is key to keeping all systems running. I want to express respect for every previous editor at the journal and appreciation for the editorial board.
We’re thrilled to welcome the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies to our publishing program starting with volume 21, issue 1, which is available now. SJEAS is an open-access, international publication that presents research related to the Sinographic Cosmopolis/Sphere of pre-1945 East Asia, publishing both articles that stay within traditional disciplinary or regional boundaries and works that explore the commonalities and contrasts found in countries of the Sinographic Sphere. Today we’re pleased to share an interview with Ross King, editor of SJEAS.
How would you describe SJEAS to someone new to the journal?
SJEAS was launched in 2000. As an international East Asian humanities journal based at a leading South Korean university with seven centuries of excellence in humanities scholarship (Sungkyunkwan University), SJEAS strives to move away from some of the entrenched biases of ‘East Asian’ studies by focusing on pre-1945 humanities in the Sinographic Cosmopolis/Sinographic Sphere; thus, SJEAS now welcomes contributions on pre-1945 Vietnam, which traditionally was not a focus of the journal. Much of East Asian humanities scholarship today is heavily presentist, while also suffering from eurocentrism and (increasingly) sinocentrism. In ‘East Asian’ studies, there is the additional challenge of ‘national studies’ myopia, whereby scholars tend to focus on just one national tradition, and then typically with a lopsided focus on either vernacular or (rarely) Sinitic sources. Thus, SJEAS aspires to challenge such biases and also include comparative and/or transregional perspectives whenever possible.
When did you join SJEAS as editor, and what drew you to the journal?
I joined in 2018, and was drawn by the fact that it is based in Korea at an institution with a strong tradition in premodern East Asian humanities scholarship: the Sungkyunkwan 成均館 was Korea’s foremost seat of learning from 1398 until the end of the Chosŏn dynasty. South Korean scholars are producing robust, theoretically informed humanities scholarship on the Sinographic Sphere across a wide range of fields, and are keen to join the international conversation while also including voices from scholars in neighbouring East Asian countries.
Why is it important for SJEAS to be published open access?
The original terms of the South Korean government funding that helped launch the journal more than twenty years ago stipulated open access; but beyond just that legal requirement, South Korean academia in general is broadly committed to making publicly funded research as widely and freely accessible as possible, and SKKU and SJEAS share that commitment.
How has the journal changed in recent years, and how do you expect it to continue to evolve in the near future?
The most significant change since I joined has been to narrow the temporal focus to pre-1945 and to specify a long-term preference for humanities research on the Sinographic Cosmopolis (including Vietnam), along with a preference for research in translation studies, broadly defined. In previous decades, SJEAS published quite a few articles on post-1945 topics, including work on quite contemporary issues, but there are so many journals now specializing in modern and contemporary topics, and so few focused on pre-1945 (let along ‘premodern’, however one defines that) topics, that we felt it important to narrow the focus.
What are you looking for in submissions?
We are particularly welcoming of contributions that treat pre-twentieth century (before 1945) topics in the humanities. We are keen to highlight the research achievements of colleagues doing cutting-edge research in China (broadly construed), Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Our preference is for solid, primary-source heavy research rather than cutting-edge theoretical or historical work. Research on Vietnam is explicitly encouraged, as is comparative/transnational research. Because of the journal’s anchor in Korea at SKKU, with its centuries-old ties to Korean cultural tradition, we always welcome research on premodern Korean humanities that engages source materials in Literary Sinitic and/or negotiations between Sinitic and vernacular literary culture. I would emphasize that we are willing to put editorial resources into submissions that might (initially) be on shakier ground in terms of the quality of their academic English, provided the research is new and exciting for an international Anglophone audience, and that the English passes a certain relatively high threshold. But all submissions must engage with relevant western or East Asian scholarship outside the national tradition within which it is produced.
What makes “Crip Temporalities” unique or essential? What does it do that no other collection has done before?
Not only is this the first edited volume to focus on crip time and temporalities, it is also groundbreaking in other important ways. We deliberately foregrounded authors and artists of color to counteract the oft-critiqued whiteness of disability studies in the United States. We also included both foundational disability studies figures and those who are relatively new to the field, so the issue could provoke discussions of crip time across fields, generations, and geographies.
Including visual art and poetry was also important to us, as crip time has been realized perhaps most profoundly in recent years through creative works by sick and disabled artists and writers. Their work, as well as the essays themselves, expose the ragged underside of crip time that its smooth intellectual surface can never fully conceal. We believe no one can read this issue and come away unchanged.
How does the scholarship collected in this issue hold particular relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The essays, poetry, and art in this issue remind us that many people have been living in “pandemic time” before COVID, and many more will thereafter as “long-haul COVID” emerges. Pandemic time blurs the ordinary ways we segment our days and nights, forces us to confront a possibly shortened lifespan, makes us miss “milestone” events, and involves waiting, multitasking, and fumbling deadlines—all experiences that are routine for people with disabilities. This issue uses an intersectional approach to explore how that kind of temporality feels to crips, in and beyond the pandemic, and the variety of power relations that shape both normative time and temporal aberration. During COVID, this issue also shows, we have witnessed institutions making accommodations that they routinely withheld from, or imperfectly and grudgingly bestowed on, people with disabilities: remote work, flex time, deadline extensions, etc. We hope that the issue will resonate with audiences in and beyond disability studies, for whom the past year has created possibilities for alliances between crips and non-crips.
How do you imagine “Crip Temporalities” could be used in courses, or as a basis for future scholarship?
The essays, art, and poetry in this special issue form a cohesive whole that is well-suited to be taught in full. Students can find different entry points to the material in the different genres, as well as the essays, which range from personal to analytical, exploring crip temporality in contexts as varied as a qualitative study of disabled faculty in the US, violence in occupied Palestine, Black feminist digital humanities, Latina/o/x testimonio, and queer- and crip-of-color self-care. Were I teaching this in a disability studies or gender and women’s studies class, I would ask each student to pick one piece from the issue—essay, poem, art—and talk or write about how it relates to their lives or the world around them. I am confident that every reader will find something profound in this issue, starting with Eli Clare’s magnificent and searing poem, composed in the early days of the pandemic.
As disability studies scholarship moves beyond a rights-based model to aspire to disability justice, this collection offers a keystone for that evolution. Disability justice centers the experiences and voices of Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, and Asian American disabled people, as well as those who are queer, trans, and/or economically precarious. In accordance with this principle, we sought with “Crip Temporalities” to amplify others’ perspectives and expand the scope of what is published as “disability studies” or “queer studies” or “temporality studies.”
This volume, conceived almost two years ago, appears at a time when the violent devaluing of Black lives in this country—from the malignant neglect of COVID-19 management to the repeated police murders of Black people—constitutes a second pandemic, whose roots run as deep as the nation itself. This volume brings new and important perspectives to a vital ongoing conversation about how disabled bodies get racialized, and how the health, mobility, and bodily functions of racialized populations are compromised.
Similarly, “Crip Temporalities” is part of a turn in queer studies from spectacularly and knowingly transgressive bodies toward bodies and people who are just getting by, surviving, doing the unglamorous work of self- and mutual care. Finally, we see the volume as part of the move to revive the genres and modes that count as conceptual critical writing—not only visual art and poetry but also personal narrative, testimonial, manifesto, and beyond—exemplified in the new Duke University Press series Writing Matters!
In this inaugural Duke University Press issue—the first of three on the journal’s foundational concepts of “liquidity,” “blackness,” and “aesthetics”—leading voices in Black studies and beyond reflect on the conceptual and practical possibilities and shortcomings of Black liquidity. Conceived as a musical ensemble and framed by a lyrical history of the liquid blackness research group’s method, practice, and praxis, the issue gathers the work of theorists and practitioners spanning different modes of intellectual inquiry and champions experimentalism as a theoretical and artistic practice. In doing so, the issue unflinchingly addresses the entanglement between race, capital, and the constitution of the modern subject as well as the jurisgenerativity of liquid aesthetic practices and their unruly archives—all within the context of what Toni Morrison described as the liquidity of the Black arts.
liquid blackness, edited by Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer, seeks to carve out a place for aesthetic theory and the most radical agenda of Black studies to come together in productive ways, with the goal of attending to the aesthetic work of Blackness and the political work of form. In this way, the journal develops innovative approaches to address points of convergence between the exigencies of Black life and the many slippery ways in which Blackness is encountered in contemporary sonic and visual culture. The journal showcases a variety of scholarly modes, including audio-visual work and experimental and traditional essays. It aims to explore who can do theory (scholars, artists, activists, individuals, and ensembles), how theory can be done (in image, writing, archiving, curating, social activism), and what a Black aesthetic object is (“high”/“low” art, sound and image, practice and praxis).
Smoking cigarettes in my one clean undershirt. This summer feels like a sermon on pride and speed and neon. We’re indistinct as stars or skateboarders blurry under streetlights. There’s a savant that can mimic creation, from birds in a sack to bullets the size of a boy’s hand. Truckers have jokes about the Department of Transportation we’ll never understand. Our ideals of authenticity and progress stalemate over the sushi place turned Waffle House. Some say it’s all about culture with a lowercase c, while others insist it’s what I do when no one’s looking that matters (e.g., bondage lit, lots of Sheryl Crow). The truck stop up ahead glitters like a mirage. We may never be in the same time zone long enough to compromise our feelings of this place. Its moments of familiarity as fleeting as an oldies station from a passing car, before it becomes another thing altogether. Girls’ night resurfaces, but only as some antinomian treat. The murals conceal their hobo aesthetics beneath layers of persimmon and mauve. It’s not enough to say we valued risk, that we were beautiful as hunters— the ones who said tombstones arch like lovers in a field, their spines thrust in the air, their backs black with crows.
On April 1, our dear colleague and friend David Southern, age 74, passed away peacefully at home. David had been an invaluable member of the Press since 1998, and he was passionate in his work as managing editor of the Carlyle Letters, a project that reflected his love of the written word. David grew up in North Carolina and was an accomplished local historian. His lifelong interest in poetry is reflected in years of correspondence with and publication of numerous poets, including those associated with the former Black Mountain College near Asheville. His obituary is available here. In today’s post, we share memories of David’s time at the Press.
“I—like many others at the Press—really cared about David. I had worked with him since 1999 and had some incredible conversations with him throughout the years. He was an intellectual decathlete–a person who knew more about more subjects than anyone I’ve probably ever met. He was incredibly kind, thoughtful, conscientious, funny, and humble. He’ll be deeply missed.
“In 2007, my daughters and I went on a hike with David. David talked to them about odology, different wildflowers and birds, colonial history, etc. It was like spending the afternoon with a very intellectual park ranger, but we never left Durham. My kids were like, ‘David knows something about everything.'” —Rob Dilworth, Journals Director
“David never wanted to be a bother or impose on anyone. To a fault. I often found myself in our check-ins caringly upbraiding him for being (what I felt was) too self-effacing and even nagged him on occasion like the Jewish mother I am. Speaking of which, he always remembered to wish me well on the Jewish holidays. He also always inquired about my kids. He was a mensch.
“Every status report he submitted read more like something I would want to pore over while drinking a glass of wine rather than something I would want to get through efficiently. That’s not to say they weren’t informative or pertinent to work; they were just also so imbued with the affable kind of character you yearn for in a narrative voice and so rich with historical digressions and juicy aside. I (half)joked several times in meetings with him that we should publish his status reports in their own right.
“He’d be so upset to know that he wasn’t able to see the publication of the final volume of the Carlyle Letters. And my tears come as I think of this especially. He always noted that he wanted to leave everything in good order, not to be a bother, impose. I would just tell him, as I tell him in my mind now, that he did so much and that all he had done was already enough. That he was always welcome to bother me more and didn’t have to apologize ever for imposing.” —Stacy Lavin, Senior Managing Editor
“I’m very saddened that we’ve lost David. When I first started at DUP I was fortunate to have an office space directly across from his. David was so kind and generous. I looked forward to seeing him every day in the “JEDIT loft” and always enjoyed talking with him, especially about history and baseball (and how our teams, Atlanta and Kansas City, were faring). I learned so much from David about the history of my new home city and state. I very much admired David and his remarkable erudition, wit, and genuineness. He will be greatly missed. I’m so sorry for his family and for everyone who cared so much for him.” —Ray Lambert, Senior Managing Editor
“The courtliness is real. I can’t count the number of times I was walking behind him in the halls of Brightleaf and he jogged back to open whatever door I was headed for. I fondly recall an evening at the Federal when I sat next to him and his friend at the bar, and David facilitated the entire conversation between us—feeding us tidbits of information about each other that he knew would provoke interest and connection, making sure we came to know and enjoy each other.” —Allison Belan, Director for Strategic Innovation and Services
“I was visiting Bennett Place in Durham with some visiting family and was surprised to hear David’s voice narrating the film at the visitor’s center. He was uncredited but admitted to me that it was indeed him, doing a favor for a friend. So typical. Always full of surprises.
“Upon seeing all the dictionaries in my office, he said I could have his 1934 Webster New International 2nd edition when ‘he was done with it.’ I just smiled thinking that was a long way off. Now I know returning to work will definitely not be the same.” —Charles Carson, Managing Editor
“I want to share a video that features David’s beautiful voice: a fundraising video for the Carlyle Letters that the marketing team created. David shared with me once that he’d been told that the Carlyle Letters would be considered one of the Press’s greatest contributions long after all of us were gone…in addition to the Carlyles, it captures correspondence with so many luminous minds of that time (Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Gaskell). No wonder David had such a passion for the project—he was always in good company. Like Stacy, I am so sorry that he won’t see the publication of the final volume.” —Jocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing Manager
“David’s courtliness cannot be overstated. It showed in his manner with all of us, in his choice of words, even in his style of composing an email. Here’s one he sent last June to the DUP list in response to some insect photos I had circulated.
“The salutation is naturally a classic southern colloquialism (with a comma added in). But before that, the date. Besides the expressions David chose, I loved his way of dating emails, as if he were writing with a quill pen from the desk of. That habit was part whimsy but also, I think, part an act of resistance to technological constraints. David had to use email, as we all do, but he, immersed in Victorian correspondence, wanted it to be something more—a letter.” —Chris Mazzara, Assistant Managing Editor
“I had the honor to work with David on The Carlyle Letters as the liaison to the technological team at the University of South Carolina that develops and manages the Carlyle Letters Online. David was always courtly and generous in person and in his gracious emails; indeed, I wasn’t sure what I had done to merit such kind appreciation! I especially enjoyed when the academic editors would come to town and the four of us would go out for ‘tea,’ a charming euphemism. Our conversations ranged widely, and I began to realize that David had a wonderful knowledge of many things and had some sort of mysterious connection to everyone and everything. He seemed to magically combine all the best qualities of a scholar, a gentleman, and a hippie. With deep attention, expertise, and patience, he maintained the highest editorial standards on the Carlyle Letters; I am so sad for us and the project that he will not be the one to produce the last volume. We should have been saying all these things at his retirement party after publication of volume 50! I feel that we have lost something incalculable with his passing and that when this special and unique person went away from us, he took a whole world with him.” —Sylvia Miller, Senior Program Manager, Franklin Humanities Institute
“It is so sad to hear of the passing of David Southern. I’d had some interesting conversations with him over the years I’ve been at Duke University Press. I’d always tell him, you definitely have a radio voice (and I thought at least one of those movie announcing voices). I’d once discussed inquiring with him on some North Carolina history of Halifax, Warren, and Nash counties, and he told me, sure, anytime. Now, I sadly wish I’d added that time to my schedule. I’m sure I’d have gained a lot.
“In hearing the news of the loss of him I was stopped in my tracks. He always greeted me warmly in the hallways. Kindness can be rare these days and I truly appreciated his kindness. I will continue to remember him as a quiet, gentle soul. To the man of The Carlyle Letters, you will be missed. Rest in peace, David. And know on a Friday afternoon, we stopped the Press for a moment in your honor.” —Sonya Johnson, IT Project Manager
“I am so honored to have known David. Even with all of his knowledge and accomplishments, he was always so unassuming, welcoming, encouraging, and kind. He taught me what a Japanese apricot was. Once, when I passed him straightening the rug in the Brightleaf hallway, he said he just liked to keep it neat—that is the kind of careful, generous person he was. He will be greatly missed.” —Sadye Teiser, Managing Editor
“Shortly after I began working at DUP, our annual meeting theme was on Press history. We were able to benefit from David’s incredible history of DUP. He graciously met with us to provide information and even accompanied our Front Desk Coordinator, Jennifer Tyska, to Duke Archives for research. My initial impression of David being an incredibly intelligent and kind man never changed from that first interaction. He was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed.” —Bonnie Conner, HR Director
In response to recent acts of violence against Asian Americans stemming from a long history of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States, we wish to offer resources to contextualize the experiences of Asian and Pacific Americans. The articles, issues, and books in our Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus discuss not only complex histories and contemporary experiences of racism and imperialism, but also community formation, solidarity between marginalized groups, and worldmaking possibilities.
All journal articles and issues in the syllabus are free to read until August 31, 2021. The introduction to each book is free, and books may be purchased at dukeupress.edu.
The Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus is one of several staff-curated syllabi, with topics ranging from global immigration to racial justice to trans rights.
What guided your interest in editing this special issue? What questions or problems shaped your study?
Jared Sexton wrote of the fated entanglement of anti-Blackness and AIDS in Amalgamation Schemes (U Minn, 2008): “the fate of AIDS and the fate of the Black are fundamentally intertwined.” This entanglement is an extension of what Saidiya Hartman reveals in her work as “the entanglement of slavery and freedom.” Freedom, then, is property, in the sense of the carceral and anti-Black metaphysics of possessive individualism, and property is freedom, in the sense of life as economized by the valuations of racial capitalism and as demonstrated by the politics of AIDS and COVID-19 and big pharma as a technology of racial capitalism. Post-AIDS ideology, which figures AIDS is over and HIV as manageable and livable, performs an anti-Black epistemic erasure of how both HIV and AIDS are necropolitical. The ongoing global criminalization of HIV is a death sentence for Black queer, trans, poor, sex workers and AIDS activists. Black AIDS activism in its “aesthetic sociality,” to take up Laura Harris‘s brilliant formulation, and in its poetic sociality (thinking here of Black AIDS poetics), has always been a struggle against premature death. Gregory Smith, Black gay ACT UP activist who died in a New Jersey prison after being sentenced under HIV criminalization laws; Melvin Dixon, whom we know is somewhere listening for his name; Marsha P. Johnson, and many others who are part of what Cedric Robinson called the “ontological totality” of the Black radical tradition, struggled against what Dixon called the “double cremation” of premature death through genocidal anti-Blackness and—but also as—AIDS. Rather than the foreclosing of AIDS as somehow over, instead we open out onto pressing questions posed by the proximity of and the friction between queerness, Blackness, transness, and disability.
What makes “Trans in a Time of HIV/AIDS” unique or essential? What do you think it does, or can do, that no other collection has done before?
In some ways the answer is simple: there is an urgent and pressing need for the field of trans studies (including the field-defining journal of TSQ) to focus on transwomen, particularly Black transwomen, who are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. The statistics are startling—and ongoing!—and trans studies must ask why and center that problem in their analysis. Even as attention to materiality and ontology in trans studies grows, nowhere is there a sustained engagement with how AIDS has literally made trans subjects, histories, bodies, activisms, and academic discourses. You cannot be seriously interested in trans materiality or embodiment without understanding how AIDS continues to forge the lived realities of trans people and the very metalogics of trans studies itself. This absence is not isolated to trans studies; it continues in what is left of queer studies that attends to race, trans, or debility. There is a presumption that AIDS in the US has gone, that we live in the afterward of AIDS. This is simply wrong. What our special issue fore-places is that AIDS continues to function as a material and political process in administrating ontological and epistemological racial and sexual order in the contemporary. We ask how the emergence of US-centered trans studies in the ’90s—at the height of the AIDS epidemic—was shaped by the trauma of that moment. One theme we consider is how engagements with gender transgression in queer theory—that difficult twin of trans studies—promoted an anti-libidinal structure that turned gender identity into sexuality itself. As much as sexed essentialism seemed the target of gender transgression, the unconscious of that maneuver was sexually repressive—perhaps an effect of the collapsing anti-Black and homophobic violence of the epidemic.
Trans studies, it would seem, only succeeded in territorializing gender transgression. The collapse of identity as sexuality rendered gender a metaphysics that could then circulate in critical discourse as either absence or presence. No gender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, or the indeterminate pronoun “they” are as gender-y as the regressive “she” or “he” pronouns. Simply, resistance to gender itself operationalized through abstractions and de-materializations of gender trouble. From this vantage, we begin to ask how the anti-Blackness and homophobia of AIDS shaped and reshape the subtending logics that continue to institutionalize trans studies. In our introduction we frame this argument, and our contributors offer their own, and sometimes differing, approaches to these interlocking problems that define trans studies and AIDS. In our introduction, and in the issue more broadly, we turn to Black transwomen and femme artists who are reimagining and reworking the racial and sexual violence of AIDS; Black artists who are interrogating the ongoing trauma of AIDS, but in ways that fore-place sexuality and Blackness. Trans, in their work, is de-essentialized through commitments to pleasure and the reimagining of memory and archive. Our hope is to invite new questions, to reinvigorate curiosity where “obviousness” has taken control. Reexaminations of structuring logics is not a cancellation, we argue, but an opportunity to recognize that fields like trans studies are worthy of rigorous thinking and deepening investigations of our possessive investments.
Why the turn to art and aesthetics to think together trans and AIDS? How are artists guiding the way?
“I’ve lost the future tense from my vocabulary.”—Melvin Dixon. Dixon’s pandemic poetry is heart-rending, even more so now at the nexus of premature death from AIDS and COVID-19. The work is striking for how it uncovers grief and both echoes the call to “defend the dead,” as the incredible poetics of M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! (Wesleyan UP, 2008) enjoins, and resonates with the ethical praxis of what Christina Sharpe in In the Wake (Duke UP, 2016) so powerfully calls “wake work.” In his writing Dixon talks about AIDS, anti-Blackness, and disability; about archival erasure and loss and historical responsibility; and about desire and the flesh. What comes into view is not only AIDS as biopolitics, but AIDS as the politics and poetics of the flesh—flesh in the sense imbued the term by Hortense Spillers and also in the sense of Toni Morrison’s ethical call in Beloved to love the flesh in the face of peril. Loving the flesh that is hated is also central to the aesthetic pedagogy of Black queer and trans desire and sociality.
Another important guide in this moment is Marlon Riggs, particularly his short music video, Anthem (1991), which is a musical and visual ensemble of Black queer/trans aesthetic and politics—glimpses of Marsha P. Johnson and Jesse Harris. Our first encounter with Jesse Harris was watching the film Tongues Untied (1989), and this film, like so much of Riggs’s work and the work of those involved in his films, was about loving the flesh and desiring what is hated. Tongues Untied first aired on public broadcasting, amidst Ronald Reagan’s neoliberal anti-Black, anti-gay and HIV/AIDS genocidal regime, and the National Endowment for the Arts was condemned for funding it.
We are so elated to have the artist Kiyan Williams’s work, an image from Reflections(2019), adorn the cover of this issue of the journal. Williams, whose profound work we explore in the issue and whom we interview as well, spent significant time in Riggs’s archive at Stanford and found in the archive an interview with Harris, which was not incorporated in the film. Williams made the interview and Harris the foreground of their own work, which thinks about the liminality and peripherality of Black trans femmes in representation of AIDS and its archives. Reflections was shown at the Brooklyn Museum as part of the exhibit Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, the title of which is a quote from Marsha P. Johnson.
In our introduction we also write about artist, activist, archivist, and filmmaker, as well as author and co-editor of Trap Door (MIT Press, 2017), Tourmaline’s films: Atlantic is a Sea of Bones(2018); Happy Birthday, Marsha (2018) directed with Sasha Wortzel, a visually stunning speculative film and for which Arthur Jaffa was the cinematographer; and Salacia (2019), which was also on view at the Nobody Promised You Tomorrow exhibit and is now a part of the permanent installation at MoMA and the Tate in London, UK. Tourmaline’s radical visual and cinematic theorizing of Blackness, transness, HIV/AIDS, and the afterlives and archive(s) of slavery are indispensable for thinking and teaching about trans in a time of HIV/AIDS. What we have done in this issue that feels special—meaningful and important—is to bring together trans artists and activists outside of and/or in an open relationship with academia to show how trans and AIDS are being taken up through registers of performance, theater, visual art, and cinema.
We interviewed Cecilia Gentili, who wrote a beautiful eulogy in the New York Times, “What Lorena Borjas Did for the Trans Girls of Queens,” that memorializes the radical legacy of Lorena Borjas. Borjas passed away of COVID-19 while the journal issue was being put together. She lived and organized with Latina trans and sex worker communities and for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in Queens, which is one of the boroughs most impacted by COVID-19. “We will pick up her work where she left it, work that is essential to the well-being of ‘mis pajaras’ as she called the trans girls of Queens under her wing. Without her we are a motherless brood, but we will thrive nonetheless. In the end, she gave us the greatest gift of all—she taught us how to fend for ourselves.” In our interview Gentili writes about her one woman show, The Knife that Cuts Both Ways (2018); using humor as a weapon; and the problems with redemption narratives, as well as her profound analysis of and work in HIV/AIDS and trans health, and activism against detention, cages, borders, and the protocols of proper citizenship.
How do you imagine the issue could be used in courses or for future scholarship?
We hope that our issue might be used in course designs and future projects that are committed to not already knowing what trans studies is and isn’t. Perhaps our issue would invite students to revisit arguments that seem “already rehearsed” or “over,” to better understand the structuring logics of trans studies—for instance, to ask how trans studies always been the story of AIDS. We wanted our special issue to be in the form of a question—to both question what is understood as settled and to recognize that we might not yet know how to ask good questions about trans and AIDS—and to risk field-forming investitures. In these ways, our issue could support a course that starts with the supposition that trans studies hasn’t happened yet (it isn’t dead or over because it hasn’t quite arrived), and emerging architects of trans studies might walk away from the post-queer politics of queer theory (its obsession with conclusions and temporal certainties).
Duke University Press is pleased to partner with nonprofit scholarly journal publishers and societies to provide journal services including subscription management, fulfillment, hosting, and institutional marketing and sales in a collaboration called the Scholarly Publishing Collective (SPC).
Beginning in 2021, the SPC will provide subscription management and fulfillment services, in partnership with Longleaf Services, to Cornell University Press, Texas Tech University Press, and the University of North Carolina Press. The SPC online content platform will launch in 2022, hosting journals and fulfilling digital access on behalf of Michigan State University Press, Penn State University Press, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the University of Illinois Press.
“Finding a powerful hosting platform for our eighty scholarly journals, as well as securing the expert sales and marketing services of the SPC, will transport our journals to new levels of impact,” said Patrick Alexander, director of Penn State University Press. “We’re thrilled about offering enhanced services to our societies, journal editors, and libraries, and we are eager to work with colleagues at Duke University Press, one of the most talented teams in university press publishing.”
Through the SPC, publishers will have access to resources that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive, such as a best-in-class web platform, proven customer relations and library relations teams, and a network of global sales agents with insight into university press content.
“We are honored to be working with this prestigious group of publishers,” said Duke University Press director Dean Smith. “The SPC gives us an opportunity to support a healthy ecosystem for nonprofit, mission-driven publishing and to help ensure that these publications and organizations remain vital to the communities they serve.”
Duke University Press is a nonprofit scholarly publisher with a focus on the humanities, the social sciences, and mathematics. The Press publishes approximately 140 books annually and more than 50 journals, as well as offering several electronic collections and open-access publishing initiatives.
For more information, contact: Allison Belan Director for Strategic Innovation and Services allison.belan [at] duke.edu