The Interdisciplinary Imperative in Writing and Reading about Subcultures of the Queer Past: A Study of Queer Spaces in the Work of Eileen Myles, Samuel R. Delany, and David Wojnarowicz

Sunday, January 4, 2015: 12:10 PM
Midtown Suite (New York Hilton)
Faye Guenther, York University
My paper argues that new models for queer memory can be found through a critical form of literary study that examines queer spatial histories, practices and constructs in texts. I explore this interdisciplinary approach by discussing my dissertation research on the selected prose writing of three authors in New York City, whose work spans the last four decades, to examine how they create and represent queer spaces. In contending with notions of queer spaces, their writing also reinvents ways of expressing and exploring histories of queer identity and its intersections with gender, race and class. I argue that by reading the work of Eileen Myles, Samuel R. Delany, and David Wojnarowicz in terms of queer space, their writing can be understood as a radical archive of recent queer history beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969. This is because the recent history itself can be understood as a series of struggles about queer space and how to imagine, produce and sustain it.

Queer spatial histories, practices, and constructs emerge from the content and aesthetics of a text, including its literary forms, and the genres it produces and destabilizes. Queer space occurs in the individual, communal, and performative reading experiences engendered by the text. The enactments and tensions of remembering that the texts trigger for both author and reader also reproduce queer spaces. I argue that representations of queer space in these texts can be explored as archives capable of recording and tracking histories of queer subcultures. Significantly, it is in these textual archives of queer space, which are read and understood through an interdisciplinary mode, and originally produced by their authors in interdisciplinary forms, that representations of LGBTQ histories and history making interact with explorations of queer futurity.