Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Writes of Passage: Reading Travel Writing

By James Duncan; Derek Gregory | Go to book overview

9

Travelling through the Closet

Michael Brown


INTRODUCTION

‘[T]heories travel,’ Edward Said (1983, 226) tells us. But to what end? He suggests their inevitable mobility (across disciplines, between material locations and amid different theorists) carries us to the frontiers and boundaries of theory’s ability to explain. It is not surprising then that travel writing—or more accurately the geographies it reveals—might be used to confront the utilities and the limits of a particularly influential body of theory. I would like to goad such a travelling theory in this chapter, namely psychoanalytic accounts of desire, and more specifically their own travels into literary theory. I will argue that these accounts can be brought into conversation with written geographies to produce critical insights about the mechanics of desire, especially when it takes such a spatial textualization: the closet. This long-standing spatial metaphor signifies what Eve Sedgwick (1990) has deemed the fundamental architecture of gay oppression this century. The closet evokes a sense of concealment and erasure typical of lesbian and gay desire. So much so, in fact, that it has itself travelled to signal any denial or ignorance of one’s identity. For instance, we now talk about people who are ‘in the closet’ about their HIV status when they deny their own seropositivity or refuse to tell others about it.

If the closet represents the place where gay and lesbian desire remains hidden, what sort of space is it? In this chapter, I am specifically interested in how the closet spatializes sexual desire for lesbians and gay men. The sign ‘closet’, I want to argue, is precisely such an articulation between sexuality, space and desire. Travel writing about the closet, then, provides a particularly appropriate venue for understanding their relations textually. I want to think through some of these relations by considering the travel writing of American gay author, Neil Miller. In his two books, In Search of Gay America (1989) and Out in the World (1992), Miller explores (quite literally) the geographies of the closet at national and global scales. More specifically, I will focus on his travels into two of the most closeted places on his tours: Selma, Alabama and Hong Kong. Though these are clearly very different spatializations of the closet, their differences highlight the range of ways the closet can work on desire. I will draw on two often competing foci on desire in psychoanalytic/literary theory—Lacan’s and the schizoanalysis of

-185-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Writes of Passage: Reading Travel Writing
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 228

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.