"Is Kinship Always Already Queer?"
MLA 2018 Panel
New York City, NY
4-7 January 2018
Please consider submitting to an upcoming panel for MLA 2018 in New York. Now that many reinterpret nineteenth-century “families” as fluid and non-normative, the panel organizers seek to explore the utility of “queerness” as ideology and method. How does nineteenth-century literature disrupt kinship/community/intimacy?
How does literature of the long nineteenth century conceive of family, kinship, and community in ways that confound social norms? Building on queer theory’s deconstruction of heteronormativity, Romantic, Victorian, and modernist scholars have located alternatives to hegemonic structures underlying literature and culture, including heterosexual marriage, patriarchal inheritance, and biological reproduction. However, turning the title of Judith Butler’s 2002 essay “Is Kinship Always Already Heterosexual?” on its head, we seek to question the utility of the term “queer” today, now that scholars have re-conceptualized “kinship” and “family” to have always been more fluid, intersectional, unconventional, shifting, and non-traditional than once thought. In other words: was kinship always already queer?