Shirley R. Steinberg
In this era of scholarly phrases, it is impossible to write a line without incanting the usual litany from border crossings to identity politics. As I am firmly ensconced in this era of scholarspeak, I will continue the tradition without too much of an apology. What a pleasure to write a preface for a collection of essays designed both to cross borders and to investigate identity. This collection was created to name, dename, and interrogate concepts of queerness and nonqueerness in pedagogy and cultural studies. Susan and I invited our authors to contribute to this volume as a voice in the evolving field of queer theory and as the continuation of a new voice in the field of education—teaching students to teach, teaching teachers to teach.
As we chose our authors, we looked for queer work by people queer, unqueer, or moderately queer who had something to say to these intersecting disciplines. What is queer theory? What is queerness? How do we name it, define it, find it? More important, how does this emerging discourse contribute to issues of pedagogy and social justice? The only answer I have thus far is that it is bigger than a breadbox.
In my local newspaper column I recently mentioned an incident of homophobia vis-à-vis one of my son's queer friends. An outraged reader objected to my use of the “offensive” word queer, and felt that his own homosexual ex-roommate (“some of my best friends” rhetoric reborn) would indeed be insulted if referred to as “a queer.” As my dear brother Nelson Rodriguez always insists: “We're here, we're queer, get over it.” I make no apologies for using queer or being queer. Queer is a noun and an adjective. It is a wonderful, expressive, multidimensional word. This book is here, its theory is queer, and we prepare you to be ready for it.