Response to C. Jacob Hale's "Leatherdyke Boys and Their Daddies - How to Have Sex Without Women or Men," published in the same special issue of Social Text. Sedgwick writes that Hale's paper begins "the project of articulating subjectivities that purposefully move across the boundaries of gender."
Sedgwick recounts meeting Fisher, finding him "a pretty sensational writer," and becoming a friend and literary adviser. Tasked with editing and publishing this book after Fisher's death from AIDS, Sedgwick struggles with second thoughts about the title, agreed to by Fisher, as "trivializing" him, and with the "history of white patronage and patronization of African American Writers, the tonalities of which neither of us had any wish to reproduce." Sedgwick concludes that "for all its imposing reserve and truncated power, Gary's is an idiom that longs to traverse and be held in the minds of many people who never knew him in another form."
Sedgwick considers Terry Castle's essay in the same volume, "Contagious Folly - An Adventure and Its Skeptics," as offering alternatives to "the lesbian eradicating options of credulous versus crazy." Instead, the Castle opens the question, "what kind of act was it...to write and publish this...claim made for a place in public history...of their subjectivities?" In the wake of the Rodney King verdict and the pre-publication assessments of "Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl," Sedgwick seeks to "de-emphasize the epistemology of evidence and instead stress its erotics."
In this review of an art exhibition about breast cancer, Sedgwick critiques the premise that “artists - all presumed healthy - create works of art that would, somehow, give a ‘voice’ to…women - all presumed voiceless - struggling with the disease.” She also objects to the lack of representation of lesbians in both the exhibition and in cancer research.
Sedgwick gave this talk in response to a Newsweek article on political correctness on campus as thought policing, which stated that it is not enough "to refrain from insulting homosexuals or other minorities," because multiculturalism also expects students to "study their literature and culture alongside that of Plato, Shakespeare, and Locke." Sedgwick observes that this claim coexists with anti-gay regulation of speech such as Bowers v. Hardwick and broader regulation of speech in FCC v. Pacifica. She argues that "it is speech and visibility that give us any political power we have."
This piece takes the form of a dialogue between Sedgwick and Moon in which they counter “typecasting Whitman as the pathetic fag son of a mean and withholding father and a possessive and demanding mother,” using letters between mother and son and the theories of psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi.
This is a remembrance of writer and theorist Lynda Myoun Hart. Sedgwick describes her as having “a kind of relishing interest and almost X-ray analysis of cultural structures emerged from the unceasing, buoyant, and indeed seemingly joyful work of her thinking and writing.”
Noting that gender criticism can be a euphemism for, among other things, gay and lesbian criticism, Sedgwick distinguishes it from feminist, women's, and men's studies, at the same time observing that "the charting of a space between something called 'sex' and something called 'gender' has been one of the most influential and successful undertakings of feminist thought." Sedgwick gives significant attention to Foulcault's History of Sexuality, as well as "Post-Foucauldian" work.
Sedgwick argues that masculinity and femininity are “orthogonal to each other” so that “instead of being at opposite poles of the same axis, they are…independently variable.” Hence masculinity sometimes has nothing to do with men, and an inquiry into “masculinity” could include not only men who are “straight, gay, and bisexual” but also men who are female.
The papers given at the 1993 English Institute and published here attempted to "take stock of the uses...and new affordances of the performativities" at the intersection of performance. Parker and Sedgwick conclude that these essays lift stress "from the issues that surround being something..." and open a stage for explorations of "that even older, even newer question, of how saying something can be doing something."
In this examination of the politics of the canon, Sedgwick concludes that "the invaluable forms of critique and dismantlement...can be only one part of the strategy of an antihomophobic project." The other part creates a "pincers movement...with the re-creation of minority gay canons from currently noncanonical material."
In this chapter from a collection of essays on queer Warhol, Sedgwick locates interconnections between queer shame and blushing; white and translucent skin; race and racism; browness, Hershey’s chocolate and the “Hershey highway;” and ways that the experience of being a queer child can manifest in adulthood. Sedgwick also observes that “the shame-delineated place of identity doesn’t determine the consistency or meaning of that identity, and race, gender, class, sexuality, appearance, and abledness are only a few of the defining social constructions that will crystalize there.”
In this dialogue between Moon and Sedgwick they describe their childhood homes and the house they share, along with a cat, in Durham, North Carolina. The house also accommodates their respective partners, “when they can spend time there,” as they live “out-of-town.”
In this book review, Sedgwick notes that No Man's Land "makes in newly possible to construct some fine and useful maps," and concludes that its contribution "is to show that joining the ladies need not require the fiction that our feelings about each other can be simple or uniform."
In this address, given as part of a “Forum on Diversity” at Amherst College, Sedgwick makes use of the history of the campus statue known as Sabrina to discuss the status of women at the formerly male-only school. The one resident female on campus for most of the college’s history, Sabrina had long been the subject of pranks and ill treatment. In contrast to Sabrina’s mute suffering, Sedgwick advises, “women, feel anger. Think about what to do with anger…. Write it…[and] women, learn how to weep without stopping talking.”
This is a wide-ranging exploration of teacher, student, activist, and psychotherapy identities, using Silvan Tomkins’ ideas on “depressiveness” and Melanie Klein’s concept of a “depressive position,” along with consideration of several scenes from Sedgwick’s book, A Dialogue on Love. She notes that “sometimes I feel like my students' analyst; other times, floundering all too visibly in my helplessness to evoke language from my seminar, I feel like a patient being held out on by 20 psychoanalysts at once.”
In this tour Sedgwick provides the course rationale, some assigned readings, a description of how the course was conducted, and sample assignments such as "performative utterances," "the obituary imperative," and "collaborative archeology."
An appreciation of James Merrill's long poem, The Book of Ephraim, which emerged through evenings spent with David Jackson "at the Ouija Board / In touch with Ephraim Our Familiar Spirit," as Merrill describes them. Sedgwick writes that Merrill's "un-Proustian tone of elegiac wishfulness only obscures his acuteness about the fate of his poetic roman fleuve."
HBO’s The L Word was touted as a major disruption of lesbian stereotypes as well as a trojan horse of girl-on-girl action for the enlightenment of male heterosexual viewers. However, in this review Sedgwick finds that if it is “as bold and daring as claimed," The L Word's "novelty does not lie in either a demographic coup or a startling use of the medium.” Rather, Sedgwick praises the program for less radical virtues, and anticipates that its audience will consist of women and men, gay and not, “who enjoy smart and well-made domestic drama, psychological and relationship-based, low on violence, criminality, and sensation.”
This is Sedgwick's response to David Van Leer’s article "The Beast of the Closet," in which he acknowledges that while Between Men “lay the foundation a truly ecumenical study of gender,” also concludes that Sedgwick to some extent “does not uncover a homophobic thematics but underwrites one.” Sedgwick counters many of Van Leer’s interpretations, and feels that he “experiences my work as something that intimately negates him,” an effect that she says is “180 degrees distant ... from” her intent.
Unlike “White Glasses,” a memorial for Michael Lynch given while he was still living, this remembrance follows this death. Sedgwick describes Lynch’s qualities, his love of aesthetic, moral and political truth, flowers, what is bare and raw, and “the visionary fact of men having sex together - almost any men, almost anywhere.”
Sedgwick traces particular difficulties in attempting the task of the essay's title. For example, she demonstrates the impossibility of learning about Oscar Wilde’s homosexuality from the circa 1960s Encyclopedia Britannica if one doesn’t already know. She takes this as an emblem of “the extremely elusive and maddeningly plural ways in which cultures and their various institutions efface and alter sexual meaning.” She goes on to say that “at least for Western society of the last two millennia, the many complicated paths by which...sexual meaning is falsified, denied, and altered, all lead homosexuals to much the same thorny and difficult place.”