Curioser: On the Queerness of Children (editor)
Our culture has a dominant narrative about children: they are (and should stay) innocent of sexual desires and intentions. At the same time, children are officially, tacitly, assumed to be heterosexual. Curiouser is a book about this narrative and what happens when it takes an unexpected, or queer, turn-when the stories of childhood must confront a child whose play does not conform to the ideal of child (a)sexuality.The contributors to Curiouser examine the ostensibly simple representations of children that circulate through visual images, life narrative, children's literature, film, and novels. At issue in these essays are the stories we tell to children, the stories we tell about children, and the stories we tell ourselves as children-stories that ultimately frame what is normative and what is queer. From the fiction of Horatio Alger, Henry James, Djuna Barnes, and Guy Davenport to the spectacles of Michael Jackson, Calvin Klein, and The Exorcist; from the narrative structure of pedophilia to evangelical Christianity; from punk tomboyism to queer girl-scouting: these scholars of childhood and sexuality scrutinize queer childhood energies in an impressive range of cultural forms.Contributors: Lauren Berlant, U of Chicago; Andre Furlani, Concordia U; Judith Halberstam, U of California, San Diego; Ellis Hanson, Cornell U; Paul Kelleher; Kathryn Kent, Williams College; James Kincaid, U of Southern California; Richard Mohr, U of Illinois, Urbana; Michael Moon, Johns Hopkins U; Kevin Ohi, Boston College; Eric Savoy, U of Montreal; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, CUNY Graduate Center; Kathryn Bond Stockton, U of Utah; Michael Warner, Rutgers U.Steven Bruhm is associate professor of English at Mount St. Vincent University. He is the author of Reflecting Narcissus: A Queer Aesthetic (Minnesota, 2000) and Gothic Bodies: The Politics of Pain in Romantic Fiction (1994). Natasha Hurley has taught children's literature and queer theory at Mount St. Vincent University and St. Mary's University in Halifax. 2004, University of Minnesota Press.
Reflecting Narcissus: A Queer Aesthetic
In Reflecting Narcissus, Steven Bruhm traces the complex uses of Narcissus in cultural and aesthetic formulations from the eighteenth century to the present and returns Narcissus's essential homoeroticism to a central place in this history. Extending the horizons of queer, feminist, and psychoanalytic theory, this book challenges the twentieth century's predominant understanding of narcissism-and the predominantly narcissistic qualities of male same-sex desire-as allegedly solipsistic, immature, sterile, antisocial, and apolitical. Bruhm argues that Narcissus has, instead, served to trouble the very cultural and gendered norms that define him.
While aesthetic theories since Romanticism and before have exploited the desiring gaze of Narcissus, they simultaneously deny his homoeroticism. And yet, Bruhm argues, these aesthetics depend on the very queerness they silence, instilling a vague-and consequential-discomfort about a homosexual Narcissus in discourses from Neoplatonism and psychoanalysis to that of queer cultural production itself. Our culture, Bruhm contends, mutes the narcissistic eros that it paradoxically depends on for the work of introspection. He unravels this problem in texts from Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray to Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, from Tennessee Williams's Suddenly Last Summer to Peter Straub's Ghost Story, from Schlegel's sonnets to pornography and the gothic, from Decadence to French feminism, from Symbolism to psychoanalysis.
This book reveals how Narcissus, while generating representations of creative masculinity, destabilizes them at the same time-offering us an exciting new purchase on phallocentric identity, its art, and its politics. 2000, University of Minnesota Press.
Gothic Bodies: The Politics of Pain in Romantic Fiction
An intriguing scholarly investigation, not so much of the ways the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries articulated pain, but of the ways in which pain itself articulated the late eighteenth-century experience. Through analysis of novels, plays, and poems, the author explores the transition from sensibility as a sense of "selflessness" to Romanticism, which puts the self in the foreground as the mediating consciousness. His tightly focused discussion sets a starting point for further critical investigation of the subject. 1994, University of Pennsylvania Press.