Queer Theory and the Jewish Question

Queer Theory and the Jewish Question

Queer Theory and the Jewish Question

Queer Theory and the Jewish Question

Synopsis

The essays in this volume boldly map the historically resonant intersections between Jewishness and queerness, between homophobia and anti-Semitism, and between queer theory and theorizations of Jewishness. With important essays by such well-known figures in queer and gender studies as Judith Butler, Daniel Boyarin, Marjorie Garber, Michael Moon, and Eve Sedgwick, this book is not so much interested in revealing--outing--"queer Jews" as it is in exploring the complex social arrangements and processes through which modern Jewish and homosexual identities emerged as traces of each other during the last two hundred years.

Excerpt

The essays in this volume explore the relays between Jewishness and queerness, between homophobia and antisemitism, and between queer theory and theorizations of Jewishness. the volume is not so much interested in revealing—outing?—“queer Jews” as it is in exploring the complex of social arrangements and processes through which modern Jewish and homosexual identities emerged as traces of each other. Queer Theory and the Jewish Question thus enacts a change in object from uncovering the hidden histories of homosexuals who were also Jewish or Jews who were also homosexual to analyzing the rhetorical and theoretical connections that tie together the constellations “Jew” and “homosexual.” While there are no simple equations between Jewish and queer identities, Jewishness and queerness yet utilize and are bound up with one another in particularly resonant ways. This crossover also extends to the modern discourses of antisemitism and homophobia, with stereotypes of the Jew frequently underwriting pop cultural and scientific notions of the homosexual. and vice versa.

To bring the matter to a sharper point: there may just be something queer about the Jew … and something, well, racy about the homosexual. Among other things, this means that the circuit jew-queer is not only theoretical but has had—and still has—profound implications for the ways in which Jewish and queer bodies are lived. (Certainly, the interconnections have had implications for how Jewish and queer bodies have died.)

The popular notion that Jews embodied non-normative sexual and gender categories is long-standing. Recent work in Jewish cultural studies by Jay Geller (“Paleontological”), Sander Gilman (Freud, Race, and Gender), and others documents attributions of “softness” to Jewish men predating the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the historical period addressed by most of the essays in this volume. Moreover, in his Nationalism and Sexuality George . . .

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