Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 3

QueerTheory

WhilenotdirectlydiscussedinSlaughterCity,NaomiWallacewasinfluencedbyqueertheory
andmanyofthequestionssheasksustoconsideraboutthesecharactersandtheimpactof
theirsexualidentitiesaretiedtothefieldofqueertheory.BelowistheWikipediaintroduction
tothefield.

Queertheoryisafieldofpoststructuralistcritical
theorythatemergedintheearly1990soutofthe
Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with
fieldsofqueerstudiesandwomen'sstudies.Queer
the normal, the legitimate, the dominant.
theoryincludesbothqueerreadingsoftextsand
There is nothing in particular to which it
thetheorisationof'queerness'itself.Heavily
necessarily refers. It is an identity without an
influencedbytheworkofGloriaAnzalda,Eve
KosofskySedgwick,JudithButler,JosEsteban
essence. 'Queer' then, demarcates not a
Muoz,andLaurenBerlant,queertheorybuilds
positivity but a positionality vis--vis the
bothuponfeministchallengestotheidea
normative.[1]
thatgenderispartoftheessentialselfandupon
gay/lesbianstudies'closeexaminationof
thesociallyconstructednatureof
sexualactsandidentities.Whereasgay/lesbianstudiesfocuseditsinquiriesintonatural
andunnaturalbehaviourwithrespecttohomosexualbehaviour,queertheoryexpandsits
focustoencompassanykindofsexualactivityoridentitythatfalls
intonormativeanddeviantcategories.ItalianfeministandfilmtheoristTeresade
Lauretiscoinedtheterm"queertheory"foraconferencesheorganizedattheUniversityof
California,SantaCruzin1990andaspecialissueofDifferences:AJournalofFeminist
CulturalStudiessheeditedbasedonthatconference.
Queerfocuseson"mismatches"betweensex,genderanddesire.Queerhasbeenassociated
mostprominentlywithbisexual,lesbianandgaysubjects,butanalyticframeworkalso
includessuchtopicsascrossdressing,intersexuality,genderambiguityandgender
correctivesurgery.Queertheory'sattempteddebunkingofstable(andcorrelated)sexes,
gendersandsexualitiesdevelopsoutofthespecificallylesbianandgayreworkingofthe
poststructuralistfiguringofidentityasaconstellationofmultipleandunstablepositions.
Queertheoryexaminestheconstitutivediscoursesofhomosexualitydevelopedinthelast
centuryinordertoplace"queer"initshistoricalcontext,andsurveyscontemporary
argumentsbothforandagainstthislatestterminology.
AnnamarieJagosewroteQueerTheory:AnIntroductionin1997.Queerusedtobeaslang
forhomosexualandworse,usedforhomophobicabuse.Recently,thistermhasbeenused
asanumbrellatermforbothculturalsexualidentificationsandothertimesasamodelfor
moretraditionallesbianandgaystudies.AccordingtoJagose(1996),"Queerfocuseson
mismatchesbetweensex,genderanddesire.Formost,queerhasprominentlybeen
associatedwithsimplythosewhoidentifyaslesbianandgay.Unknowntomany,queerisin
associationwithmorethanjustgayandlesbian,butalsocrossdressing,hermaphroditism,
genderambiguityandgendercorrectivesurgery."KarlUlrich'smodel,heunderstood

homosexualitytobeanintermediatecondition,a'thirdsex'thatcombinedphysiological
aspectsofbothmasculinityandfemininity.
"Queerisaproductofspecificculturalandtheoreticalpressureswhichincreasingly
structureddebates(bothwithinandoutsidetheacademy)aboutquestionsoflesbianand
gayidentity"
QueertheoristMichaelWarnerattemptstoprovideasoliddefinitionofaconceptthat
typicallycircumventscategoricaldefinitions:"Socialreflectioncarriedoutinsucha
mannertendstobecreative,fragmentary,anddefensive,andleavesusperpetuallyata
disadvantage.Anditiseasytobemisledbytheutopianclaimsadvancedinsupportof
particulartactics.Buttherangeandseriousnessoftheproblemsthatarecontinuallyraised
byqueerpracticeindicatehowmuchworkremainstobedone.Becausethelogicofthe
sexualorderissodeeplyembeddedbynowinanindescribablywiderangeofsocial
institutions,andisembeddedinthemoststandardaccountsoftheworld,queerstruggles
aimnotjustattolerationorequalstatusbutatchallengingthoseinstitutionsandaccounts.
Thedawningrealisationthatthemesofhomophobiaandheterosexismmaybereadin
almostanydocumentofourculturemeansthatweareonlybeginningtohaveanideaof
howwidespreadthoseinstitutionsandaccountsare".[2]
Queertheory'smainprojectisexploringthecontestingofthecategorisationofgenderand
sexuality;identitiesarenotfixedtheycannotbecategorisedandlabeledbecause
identitiesconsistofmanyvariedcomponentsandthattocategorisebyonecharacteristicis
wrong.Queertheorysaidthatthereisanintervalbetweenwhatasubject"does"(role
taking)andwhatasubject"is"(theself).Sodespiteitstitlethetheory'sgoalisto
destabiliseidentitycategories,whicharedesignedtoidentifythe"sexedsubject"andplace
individualswithinasinglerestrictivesexualorientation.
Queertheoryisderivedlargelyfrompoststructuralisttheory,anddeconstructionin
particular.Startinginthe1970s,arangeofauthorsbroughtdeconstructionistcritical
approachestobearonissuesofsexualidentity,andespeciallyontheconstructionofa
normative"straight"ideology.Queertheoristschallengedthevalidityandconsistencyof
heteronormativediscourse,andfocusedtoalargedegreeonnonheteronormative
sexualitiesandsexualpractices.
Theterm"queertheory"wasintroducedin1990,withEveKosofskySedgwick,Judith
Butler,AdrienneRichandDianaFuss(alllargelyfollowingtheworkofMichelFoucault)
beingamongitsfoundationalproponents.
History
Theword'homosexuality'coinedin1869byanAustroHungariandoctor,KarolyMaria
BenkertwasnotusedwidelyinEnglishuntilthe1890s.Gaywasmobilizedasa
specificallypoliticalcountertothatbinariesandhierarchisedsexualcategorizationwhich
classifieshomosexualityasadeviationfromaprivilegedandnaturalizedheterosexuality.
Queermarksbothacontinuityandabreakwithpreviousgayliberationistandlesbian
feministmodels.Queerisaproductofspecificculturalandtheoreticalpressurewhich

increasinglystructureddebates(bothwithinandoutsidetheacademy)aboutquestionsof
lesbianandgayidentity.
Therehasbeenalonghistoryofcriticalandanarchisticthinkingaboutsexualandgender
relationsacrossmanycultures.Mostrecently,inthelate1970sand1980's,social
constructionistsconceivedofthesexualsubjectasaculturallydependent,historically
specificproduct.[3]Beforethephrase"queertheory"wasborn,theterm"QueerNation"
appearedonthecoveroftheshortlivedlesbian/gayquarterlyOutlook(magazine)inthe
winter1991issues.WritersAllanBerubeandJeffreyEscoffierdrovehomethepointthat
QueerNationstrovetoembraceparadoxesinitspoliticalactivism,andthattheactivism
wastakingnewformandrevolvingaroundtheissueofidentity.[4]Soon
enoughOutlookandQueerNationstoppedbeingpublished,however,therewasaminigay
renaissancegoingonduringthe1980sandearly1990s.Therewereanumberofsignificant
outburstsoflesbian/gaypolitical/culturalactivity.Outofthisemergedqueertheory.Their
workhoweverdidnotariseoutoftheblue.TeresadeLauretisiscreditedwithcoiningthe
phrase"queertheory".Itwasataworkingconferenceonlesbianandgaysexualitiesthat
washeldattheUniversityofCalifornia,SantaCruzinFebruary1990thatdeLauretisfirst
madementionofthephrase.[5]Shelaterintroducedthephraseina1991specialissue
ofdifferences:AJournalofFeministCulturalStudies,entitled"QueerTheory:Lesbianand
GaySexualities."SimilartothedescriptionBerubeandEscoffierusedforQueerNation,de
Lauretisassertedthat,"queerunsettlesandquestionsthegenderednessof
sexuality."[6]Barelythreeyearslater,sheabandonedthephraseonthegroundsthatithad
beentakenoverbymainstreamforcesandinstitutionsitwasoriginallycoinedto
resist.[7]JudithButler'sGenderTrouble,EveKosofskySedgwick'sEpistemologyoftheCloset,
andDavidHalperin'sOneHundredYearsofHomosexualityinspiredotherworks.Teresade
Lauretis,JudithButler,andEveSedgwickarrangedmuchoftheconceptualbaseforthe
emergingfieldinthe1990s.Alongwithotherqueertheorists,thesethreeoutlineda
politicalhermeneutics,whichemphasizedrepresentation.Thesescholarsaskedquestioned
ifpeopleofvaryingsexualorientationshadthesamegoalspoliticallyanddidthoseinthe
sexualminorityfeelthattheycouldberepresentedalongwithothersofdifferent
sexualitiesandorientations."Whilesomecriticsinsistthatqueertheoryisapoliticalword
smithery,[deLauretis,Butler,andSedgwick]takeseriouslytherolethatsignsandsymbols
playinshapingthemeaningsandpossibilitiesofourcultureatthemostbasiclevel,
includingpoliticsconventionallydefined."[4]
Backgroundconcepts
Queertheoryisgroundedingenderandsexuality.Duetothisassociation,adebate
emergesastowhethersexualorientationisnaturaloressentialtotheperson,as
anessentialistbelieves,orifsexualityisasocialconstructionandsubjecttochange.[8]
Thequeertheoryhastwopredominantstrains:

Radicaldeconstructionism:interrogatescategoriesofsexualorientations.
Radicalsubversion:disruptsthenormalizingtendenciesofthesexualorder.