I’m presenting these in no particular order, as it’s difficult for me to rationalize a hierarchical system to describe formativity. This is by no means a complete list, and I provide by no means a complete explanation/summary for each text. The thing that started this entire post is that I really can’t include all of this information into a single media response (half of which I already turned into a Twessay omfg) for ANTH 497, and I needed to figure out a way to frame information in a way which would be useful for said project without going over the 1000-word limit. Thus as opposed to fully historicizing and explaining my thoughts and responses to these readings I’m instead wanting to provide a method of brevity for some of my papers (but the one in particular) coming up this semester.
Basically: I needed to figure out a way to cite myself.
Pic unrelated, mostly.
Note: I use the term “ugly feelings” more than once to describe my own negative affects upon experiencing texts. This is a term that I know is from one of these readings, but for the life of me I can’t recall which one. Whoops!
On to the listicle:
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 2006. Touching feeling: affect, pedagogy, performativity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
I first read Eve Kosofky Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling around this time last year, and found the experience to be especially formative not only with respect to the way/s in which I choose to approach research but also the way/s in which I am capable of said approach. In “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay is About You” Sedgwick delineates (or, rather, attempts to delineate–the distinction is less a binary opposition and more a wibbly wobbly readerly eagerly) between paranoid and reparative methods of reading. Where the paranoid is “anticipatory […] reflexive and mimetic […] a strong theory […] a theory of negative affects […]” and that which “places its faith in exposure” (130) the reparative is that which allows one “to use one’s own resources to assemble or ‘repair’ the murderous part-objects into something like a whole” (128). As a queer and as someone who often experiences difficult or ugly feelings about texts the concept of the reparative reading is especially poignant for me as it offers the opportunity to take those negative affects and turn them into something positive (or, at the very least, into something more whole than shame). This is especially important and poignant to me as not only a queer reader but also a person who tends to find enjoyment in the reading of negative affects.
Allan, Jonathan A. 2016. Reading from Behind A Cultural Analysis of the Anus. The Exquisite Corpse. Regina: University of Regina.
I’m still in the process of reading this one, but I think it’s definitely going to remain influential over time. I struggle with being willing or able to express my love and enjoyment of texts which contain materials other people may find offensive or distasteful (ex. body horror), and more relevantly I struggle to put into words why I find enjoyment in some texts that others are unable or unwilling to. Even in explaining things in this way, however, I feel that I have fallen into a paranoid trap: “[t]he very idea of the reparative reading renders critics paranoid, anxious, worried. We apologize for it before we have even begun to do it” (16). Building on Sedgwick’s reparative reading Reading From Behind has thus far been a mix of emotions, but overall skewing to comfort. There is a comfort in knowing that there is a method by which my ugly feelings may be transformed. In the chapter “Spanking Colonialism” Allan writes that “[c]lose reading is a kind of erotic engagement with literary and visual texts that enables us to move slowly through the density of words or images” (117), and while I’m speeding through this first read-through of Reading From Behind I’m looking forward to sitting on my future responses as long as possible.
Fischer, Hal. 2015. Gay Semiotics: a photographic study of visual coding among homosexual men. Los Angeles, California: Cherry and Martin.
Gay Semiotics has been a foundational reading for me with respect to understanding semiotic coding as it relates to prestige and safety. While visual information is not capital-L-Language it still provides so much contextual information which is/may be important to the understanding of a given text. As semiotics plays so well with understanding the ways in which visual information is expressedly intertextual and intermedial Gay Semiotics provides so much information on the understanding of archetypal images and the ways in which these images may be used to parse further information from a specific set of visual information which we may not elsewise have done. While I think that most texts on semiotics fulfill the use-need I’m describing here because so many of my ugly feelings come from a place of seeing queer images where others may not choosing an explicitly queer (or, in this case, gay) text is important to me.
Brice, Mattie. 2017. “Play and Be Real about It: What Games Could Learn from Kink.” Essay. In Queer Game Studies, edited by Bonnie Ruberg and Adrienne Shaw, 77–82. Minneapolis, Minesotta: University of Minesotta Press.
The idea that kink could be used as a theoretical framing device literally never occurred to me prior to reading this, despite the fact that it makes so much sense. Queer Game Studies was a huge part of my ANTH 498 final study, and I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about the ways in which my own theory/praxis are influenced by kink and BDSM (heads up: it’s a lot of ways). Brice explains it this way: “Kink isn’t just a topical analogy […] it’s a good framework for challenging these contextless play experiences by reimagining the positions of the designer, player, and play, and what those positions mean” (78). In considering this through a lens of that reparative reading I’m (obviously) such a fan of this has opened up the possibilities for dealing with ugly thoughts and ugly responses I have to texts–by coming to information reparatively and spatially I’m better able to negate the shame and humiliation that I often experience as a reader because I am the reader. It’s a small consideration, but all too important, that “WE ARE ALWAYS PLAYING. WE ARE ALWAYS IN CONTEXTS. CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING” (79). By considering our own positionality to a text we are better able to address our own values and ideologies as they influence our understanding/s.
Barthes, Roland. 1975. The Pleasure of the Text. Translated by Richard Miller. New York, New York: Hill and Wang.
While I tried to keep order out of this list as much as possible, it really is important to be ending with this quote: “No ‘thesis’ on the pleasure of the text is possible; barely an inspection (an introspection) that falls short” (34).
I hope this post ends up being useful to me moving forward, and I do recommend (perhaps obviously) that you check out each of these texts on your own time! Also it really isn’t lost on me that this list is incredibly white and incredibly male, so if you have any recommendations for texts you like that you think may help rectify that let me know!
Let me know your own reactions either here or on Twitter if you get a chance! I’m always curious about others’ perspectives!