Journals

Q&A with Heather Berg, editor of “Reading Sex Work”

Contributors to “Reading Sex Work,” a new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly, theorize sexual labor as both work and a site of labor resistance and transformation. Rather than critiquing sex work itself, they highlight sex workers’ own production of knowledge for navigating racial capitalism, state violence, and economic precarity. In today’s Q&A, issue editor Heather Berg discusses what sets “Reading Sex Work” apart and highlights a few of its contributions. Check out the issue’s contents here, including an interview with femi babylon, which is free through the end of November.

What makes “Reading Sex Work” unique or essential? What does it do that no other collection has done before?

What I hoped to do with this issue was to turn a sex work lens outward rather than a civilian (non-sex worker) gaze in. There’s a lot of fatigue in sex worker communities with the academy’s fascination with sex workers’ stories. One of the things this issue is interested in is that proliferation of scholarly interest. The pieces focus less on learning new things about sex workers than they do sex workers’ confrontations with outsiders’ ideas about their work. That comes through most directly where the authors theorize from their own locations as sex workers. It also comes through in pieces where authors engage fieldwork or literature to think about the politics of knowledge production about sexual labor. What happens when the material realities of sex work run up against theoretical ideas conceived outside that context? How does a sex work lens shift how we read Marxist political economy on the wage, feminist theorizing on gendered performance, or queer of color theorizing on pleasure politics?

The issue is also turning away from making appeals for inclusion or trying to convince anti-sex worker readers to shift their perspective. As crucial as those strategies are, they can leave little room for the stickier questions I wanted to foreground in this issue. Svati Shah’s piece gets at this tension directly, asking sex work scholars to rethink our participation in “the debate.” This is in line with a broader turn in sex workers’ own political strategy, where volumes such as the recent We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival are more and more refusing to try to convince readers who aren’t coming in good faith anyway. The essays included in this issue take as a given that sex work is work (if also sometimes anti-work), and the issue’s address is to readers who are already ready to meet us on those terms. 

How do you imagine “Reading Sex Work” could be used in courses or as a basis for future scholarship?

I hope the issue is useful to sex work scholars, who will find fresh perspectives on big questions that are vexing the field. Vanessa Carlisle and femi babylon’s pieces, for example, engage in different ways with what we mean when we call sex work “work.” I think this marks an important departure from (again, really crucial) writing that fights so hard to show that sex work is just work that it can’t ask that question. Julian Glover and Jayne Swift’s pieces will offer new insights on the politics of pleasure, and disrupt the common idea that only workers who have all their material needs met care about it. This shifts, I think, how scholars and organizers might talk about pleasure and survival in what we call the “whorerarchy.”

“The essays included in this issue take as a given that sex work is work (if also sometimes anti-work), and the issue’s address is to readers who are already ready to meet us on those terms.”

I also hope that scholars who don’t write or teach about sex work will use the issue to think about what sex workers’ encounters with knowledge production might have to say about the questions that are most immediate for them. Those interested in platform economies will find new insight about workplace control and resistance in Kate Hardy and Camille Barbagallo’s essay, while those interested in informal labor will find in Svati Shah’s essay key interventions on how we should think about the state.

Scholars of service work will find in the two pieces from Annie McClanahan and Jon-David Settell and Gregory Mitchell and Thaddeus Blanchette new ways to think about what gets sold in service work and what that means for those who enter into the exchange. Crucially, both pieces remind that the exchange doesn’t mean the same thing for workers and consumers.

Finally, the issue is as much for sex worker readers (paywall withstanding) as it is for those curious to learn more. I hope sex working readers will find pieces that feel generative, even as those of us in the academy wrestle with questions of extraction that can’t be easily smoothed over.

Explore the contents of “Reading Sex Work” here, or pick up a copy.

2022 Pricing Updates from Duke University Press

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.

Journal Updates

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 fully 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.

For more information about 2022 pricing, please contact libraryrelations@dukeupress.edu.

Q&A with GLQ editors C. Riley Snorton and Jennifer DeVere Brody

We’re more than pleased to welcome C. Riley Snorton, professor at the University of Chicago, as the newest coeditor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. In today’s blog post, he and coeditor Jennifer DeVere Brody discuss their involvement with and vision for the journal. Learn more about GLQ or subscribe here.

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.

Q&A with Ross King, editor of the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies

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.

Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues of SJEAS are published.

Pride Month Reads

June is Pride Month, and we’re proud to take this opportunity to revisit recent books and journal issues that center on queer studies, trans studies, and LGBTQ+ histories.

The contributors to “Left of Queer,” an issue of Social Text edited by David L. Eng and Jasbir K. Puar, offer a detailed examination of queerness and its nearly three-decade academic institutionalization, exploring how emergent debates in three key areas—debility, indigeneity, and trans—connect queer studies to a host of urgent sociopolitical issues. Taking a position that is politically left of the current academic and political mainstreaming of queerness, the essays in this issue examine what is left of queer—what remains outside of the political, economic, and cultural mandates of the state and the liberal individual as its prized subject.

In Wild Things Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which the wild—a space located beyond normative borders of sexuality—offers sources of opposition to knowing and being that transgress Euro-American notions of the modern subject.

The HIV/AIDS crisis is often imagined as over, yet it remains in ongoing relevance to trans life and trans death. Contributors to “Trans in a Time of HIV/AIDS,” an issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly edited by Eva Hayward and Che Gossett, examine the intersection of HIV/AIDS and trans studies, theory, and politics. Topics include differences between past and present conjuncture of trans and the virus; how HIV/AIDS matters for present-day trans studies scholarship, especially in our purportedly post-AIDS-crisis moment; and the relationship between the virus and “trans visibility.”

Queer Political Theologies,” an issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies edited by Ricky Varghese, David K. Seitz, and Fan Wu, brings together queer studies and political theology in order to explore the relationship between the self and politics, theism, and queerness. Going beyond previous work in queer political theology that has focused primarily on Christianity, contributors to this issue consider how queer sexualities appear in other theological contexts, including articles on astrological, Blackpentecostal, Thirunangai, hijra, and sarimbavy ways of life, recentering marginalized and underrepresented minorities, beliefs, and practices.

Drawing from ethnographic work with queer activist groups in contemporary Turkey, in Queer in Translation Evren Savcı explores how Western LGBT politics are translated and reworked there in ways that generate new spaces for resistance and solidarity.

In “The AIDS Crisis Is Not Over,” a Radical History Review issue edited by Emily K. Hobson and Dan Royles, contributors trace histories from around the globe and examine how HIV/AIDS has been shaped by the political economies of neoliberalism and state violence. They expand understandings of the AIDS crisis to include issues of labor, housing, and carcerality and consider ways to teach the global history of AIDS and examine key questions in writing, preserving, and remembering histories of AIDS activism.

In Sexual Hegemony Christopher Chitty traces the 500 year history of capitalist sexual relations, showing how sexuality became a crucial dimension of the accumulation of capital and a technique of bourgeois rule. The book, published posthumously, is edited by Max Fox.

The Sense of Brown, which he was completing at the time of his death, is José Esteban Muñoz’s treatise on brownness and being as well as his most direct address to queer Latinx studies. The book is edited and introduced by Joshua Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong′o.

In The Small Book of Hip Checks Erica Rand uses multiple meanings of hip check—an athlete using their hip to throw an opponent off balance and the inspection of racialized gender—to consider the workings of queer gender, race, and writing.

In Information Activism Cait McKinney traces how lesbian feminist activists in the United States and Canada between the 1970s and the present developed communication networks, databases, and digital archives to use as a foundation for their feminist, antiracist, and trans-inclusive work.

Ricardo Montez traces the drawn and painted line that was at the center of Keith Haring’s artistic practice, engaging with Haring’s messy relationships to race-making and racial imaginaries in Keith Haring’s Line.

And finally, congratulations to Ashon Crawley, whose book The Lonely Letters was awarded the Lambda Literary Award in Nonfiction earlier this week.

Three Questions with Ellen Samuels & Elizabeth Freeman, editors of “Crip Temporalities”

Ellen Samuels and Elizabeth Freeman are editors of “Crip Temporalities,” a new special issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly that explores the ways in which bodily and mental disabilities shape the experience of time. In today’s post, they describe the groundbreaking scholarship of the issue and its relevance both in and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Preview the issue’s table of contents or purchase “Crip Temporalities” here.

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.

“We believe no one can read this issue and come away unchanged.”

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?

“As disability studies scholarship moves beyond a rights-based model to aspire to disability justice, this collection offers a keystone for that evolution.”

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.

“‘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.”

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!

Learn more about “Crip Temporalities” here.

Poem of the Week

As we continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, we are pleased to share a poem published in the minnesota review: a journal of creative and critical writing, issue 95. Check back next Tuesday for another featured poem.

boilerplate
Justin Lacour

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.

Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus

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.

Three Questions with David Eng and Jasbir Puar, Editors of “Left of Queer”

David L. Eng and Jasbir K. Puar are coeditors of the new Social Text issue “Left of Queer.” In today’s post, they describe the issue’s exploration of the peripheries of queer studies; highlight contributions to the issue by authors including Petrus Liu, Christina Hanhardt, Christina Crosby, and Janet Jakobsen; and imagine how “Left of Queer” might be adopted for use in both graduate and undergraduate courses. Pick up a copy of “Left of Queer” here or explore the table of contents, and don’t miss the virtual launch event Friday, February 12.

What makes “Left of Queer” unique or essential? What does it do that no other collection has done before?

When we first started to conceive “Left of Queer” almost three years ago, we did not think it would be feasible to publish a “state of the field” assessment akin to the special Social Text issue “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?” That earlier issue, published in 2005, became a classic statement of sorts by queer-of-color scholars attempting to assert the centrality of race, empire, and diaspora in queer studies. In the intervening years, the field has expanded and become so multifaceted that much of what we might call queer studies today would not have necessarily been recognized as such in the 1990s, when the field first emerged, or even in the aughts, as it was becoming more institutionalized. Instead of reiterating the centrality of work that already enjoyed broad readership, we decided to explore the peripheries of queer studies: What were the latent issues that could be elaborated in greater depth? Who did we think was underread? Who was writing scholarship that might be considered as part of the broader theoretical and political commitments of queer studies, but rarely taught or read in this manner? In short, we sought to amplify less obvious connections.

For instance, we mark an ongoing, decades-long debate about geopolitical exceptionalism in queer theory. This concern emerged in the 1990s with critical attention to the imperial travels of the term “queer,” for instance in rights discourses and tourism. It sparked a lively interrogation of the ongoing tensions—the convergences and divergences—between queer studies and area studies, and between queer studies and anthropology, but it did not sufficiently recognize the ways in which the field itself was driven by an unmarked politics of location. While the 2005 special issue brought a specific uptake of the global, the transnational, and the real-politik effects of the 9/11 war on terror as well as US occupation, “Left of Queer” explicitly focuses on this geopolitical exceptionalism by provincializing a version of queer studies that tends to function as American area studies. All the essays in this special issue open up problems of area in relation to materiality—whether land, bodies, labor, subjects, or objects.

What is one article that stands out to you from the issue?

We think all the articles are exceptional, but let us talk about two in relation to the interventions described above.

“We decided to explore the peripheries of queer studies: What were the latent issues that could be elaborated in greater depth? Who did we think was underread?”

One strong example of the peripheries of queer studies—of scholarship that should be considered as part of the broader theoretical and political commitments of the field and as amplifying geopolitical exceptionalisms in the field—is the fantastic roundtable on safe space and securitization, edited by Christina Hanhardt and Jasbir. Here, the participants, many of whom are not thought of as queer studies scholars per se, connect recent debates about safe space, trigger warnings, campus alert systems, and Title IX that largely focus on sexual and racial traumas on US campuses to broader questions about securitization and militarization globally. Jennifer Doyle’s trenchant Campus Sex, Campus Security inspired in part the questions for the roundtable. Safe space for whom? And how does one’s safety and security potentially threaten the safety and security of others? How do we think of safe space on campus and in the gayborhood in relation to border walls and checkpoints as well as to problems of occupation and trespass more broadly?

Another strong example of how “Left of Queer” provincializes queer studies can be found in Petrus Liu’s brilliant contribution, “Queer Theory and the Specter of Materialism.” Petrus’s essay troubles so much of queer studies “proper” because it situates a genealogy of the field in China rather than embedding it in a western origin narrative. Instead, he conceives both queer studies and Marxism as materialist theories foregrounding the constitutive sociality of the self, and he places them in a Chinese politics and history that does not replay the unresolved schisms of queer studies and Marxism animating the field in the ’90s. In this manner, the essay displaces the problematic developmentalism of homonationalism—what a relief!—giving us an alternate starting point for what queer theory is and, indeed, what queer studies could be.

To this end, our introduction marks out an important shift from interrogating the politics of (neo)liberal inclusion and progress fueling the ongoing march of rights and recognition on the global stage to fighting white supremacy, authoritarianism, fascism, and militarization. It moves from the critique of human rights that animates a shift from “the woman question” to “the homosexual question” today and focuses instead on abolitionist, anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist forms of resistance and insurgency.

How do you imagine “Left of Queer” could be used in courses?

In terms of the lower-division classroom, we hope that our two very readable roundtables on safe space and on trans will be both critically useful and easily accessible for undergraduates. These roundtables speak directly to pressing debates and concerns on campus: the movement to abolish the carceral state, the policing of black and brown bodies on campus, the attack on non-binary genders. The volume as a whole, we think, is also perfect for graduate seminars exploring both the history of sexuality and topic matters that are connected to but also complicated sexuality as a focal point: courses on global labor, on political theory and economy, on indigeneity, on areas studies. The broad interdisciplinarity of “Left of Queer,” plus our expansion from subjectless critique (problematizing “proper” queer subjects) to objectless critique (moving away from subject positions altogether and illuminating the biopolitical and necropolitical aspects of disaster capitalism) is an additional heuristic for cutting across our various themes.

“Christina was unflinching in her exploration of chronic pain—of a body undone—and what it means to live a disability all the while owning the grief of a life once lived.”

We have mentioned several of the contributions already. In light of Christina Crosby’s recent and sudden passing, we wanted to end with a special mention of the incredible article that Christina and her partner Janet Jakobsen contributed, “Disability, Debility, and Caring Queerly.” [This article is freely available through the end of April.] One of the final pieces of published writing from Christina’s acclaimed career as a Victorianist, feminist, queer studies, Marxist, and critical theory scholar, this article delves into the messy materialities of queer care and kinship underpinning networks of disability—chains of labor, care work, racial and economic privilege, and affect that are often managed or concealed under the rubric of “independence” (and sometimes even “interdependence”) but without which the disabled subject of rights discourse would neither cohere nor be recognizable as a political actor. That these complex life-sustaining but also debilitating networks must now be transformed to mourn Christina’s tragic loss is a bittersweet testament to the possibilities of queer worldmaking. Christina was unflinching in her exploration of chronic pain—of a body undone—and what it means to live a disability all the while owning the grief of a life once lived. As her friends, colleagues, students, and readers, we honor Christina’s indelible legacy.

2020 Foerster Prize Winner Announced

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Norman Foerster Prize, awarded to the best essay of the year in American Literature: “Lost Archives, Lost Lands: Rereading New Mexico’s Imagined Environments” by Carlos Alonso Nugent, published in volume 92, issue 2. Read the essay, freely available through the end of April, here.

The prize committee offered this praise for the winning essay: “Carlos Alonso Nugent’s remarkable article addresses two generations of artists whose work stages environmental struggle in the US-Mexico borderlands. Moving between the imagined environments of the Precarious Desert of Adelina Otero-Warren and Fabiola Cabeza de Baca of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and the Alianza Federal de Mercedes’s Pueblo Olvidado revival in the 1960s and 1970s, Nugent constellates an archive of environmental writing that is shaped by its complex relationships to colonial power and land claims. Throughout, we not only see exquisite and nuanced readings but an approach to ecology, media, and archival work that should transform how we frame accounts of the borderlands in the twentieth century.”

The honorable mention for this year’s Foerster Prize was Blake Bronson-Bartlett’s “Writing with Pencils in the Antebellum United States: Language, Instrument, Gesture” (vol. 92, issue 2; the essay is freely available through April here). The committee had this to say about the honorable mention: “Blake Bronson-Bartlett’s account of writing in the nineteenth century tells a surprising and highly original story about materiality and writing in the period. The article challenges materialist studies of nineteenth-century archives to take up scenes of writing with media-historical rigor and trains its focus on the case of the pencil as a convincing model for an analysis that can capture the interlaced relationships among instrument, language, and gesture. Bronson-Bartlett reimagines the subject of writing with a refreshing intimacy.”

Congratulations to Carlos Alonso Nugent and Blake Bronson-Bartlett!