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James Baldwin and the "Closeted-ness" of American Power
David Jones

This article reads the work of James Baldwin in dialogue with that of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Taking its cue from Baldwin’s claim that Americans “live […] with something in [their] closet” that they “pretend […] is not there,” it explores his depiction of a United States characterized by the “closeted-ness” of its racial discourse. In doing so, the article draws on Sedgwick’s work concerning how the containment of discourses pertaining to sexuality hinges on the closeting of non-heteronormative sexual practices. Reconceptualizing Sedgwick’s ideas in the context of a black, queer writer like Baldwin, however, problematizes her own insistence on the “historical gay specificity” of the epistemology she traces. To this end, this article does not simply posit a racial counterpart to the homosexual closet. Rather, reflecting Baldwin’s insistence that “the sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined,” I highlight here the interpretive possibilities opened up by intersectional analyses that view race, sexuality, and national identity as coextensive, reciprocal epistemologies.  

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Intimacy, Shame, and the Closet in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room
Monica B. Pearl

This essay’s close interrogation of James Baldwin’s 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room allows us to see one aspect of how sexual shame functions: it shows how shame exposes anxiety not only about the feminizing force of homosexuality, but about how being the object of the gaze is feminizing—and therefore shameful. It also shows that the paradigm of the closet is not the metaphor of privacy and enclosure on one hand and openness and liberation on the other that it is commonly thought to be, but instead is a site of illusory control over whether one is available to be seen and therefore humiliated by being feminized. Further, the essay reveals the paradox of denial, where one must first know the thing that is at the same time being disavowed or denied. The narrative requirements of fictions such as Giovanni’s Room demonstrate this, as it requires that the narrator both know, in order to narrate, and not know something at the same time.

James Baldwin Review
Denis Flannery

was your year. Setting out to explain the workings of the closet as a major formative force in Western culture, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick had surprising recourse then to Esther, your biblical drama of 1689. And Alan Hollinghurst, the late twentieth century’s most striking new novelist of something called ‘gay life’, found time in 1990, between the publication of The Swimming-Pool Library (1988) and The Folding Star (1994), to translate what became known as your ‘most violent and most frightening play’, Bajazet (1672).2 Hollinghurst’s version, directed by Peter Eyre, was

in Alan Hollinghurst
Wilde’s Art
Andrew Smith

between gender and sexual orientation. It is within the epistemological space provided by the sexologists that Wildes writings avant la lettre operate. 11 The debate about homosexuality during the period is usefully contextualised by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s critique in her Epistemology of the Closet (1991). In her reading of Nietzsche she raises the question of gender, one which radically

in Victorian demons
Louise Tondeur

within in the phrase itself. First of all, the Eagleton pubic hair quotation is reminiscent of another one, the debate around which is discussed by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. It was the title of her paper ‘Jane Austen and the masturbating girl’ which, Kosofsky Sedgwick relates, caused the reaction described at the beginning of the essay of the same name in Tendencies : ‘The phrase itself is already evidence. Rodger Kimball in his treatise on educational “corruption,” Tenured Radicals , cites the title “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl

in The last taboo
Abstract only
Queering the Gothic
William Hughes
Andrew Smith

read as a tale of dangerous queer sexuality. In particular, the work of queer theorists, such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, has led scholars working within the fields of both Gothic and Queer Studies to read this text as one that is particularly concerned with desire between men. 12 Building upon this critical trend, Mair Rigby in ‘“Do you share my madness?”: Frankenstein’s queer Gothic’ (Chapter 3

in Queering the Gothic
Royce Mahawatte

’s attempts to grasp at him as he is of his own unknown origins. It is possible to read a ‘Jewish panic’ alongside an erotic one: the so-called ‘homosexual panic’ that has powered so much of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s work. In her final novel, George Eliot created an eroticism of fear around Daniel and his Jewish identity, one that eventually becomes quite explicit. When viewed against the other plot in the

in Queering the Gothic
Open Access (free)
Beckett and anxiety
Russell Smith

) cognitive interpretation of affect, and ‘feeling’ as ‘a capacious term that connotes both physiological sensations (affects) and psychological states (emotions)’.25 While recent approaches to affect and emotion differ widely, what they share is the hunch that paying attention to affect as a critical object has the capacity to disturb poststructuralist orthodoxies. For example, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Adam Frank draw on Silvan Tomkins’s massive study Affect, Imagery, Consciousness to challenge what they see as the routine critical habits of post-structuralist theory: its

in Beckett and nothing
Abstract only
The swoon and the (in)sensible woman
Naomi Booth

literalises the possible failure of sentimental language. And this swooning failure of communicability is the kind of problem highlighted by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick in ‘Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl’: Sedgwick describes sensibility as a point of ‘dangerous overlap’ between ‘the allo-identifications that were supposed to guarantee the sociable nature of sensibility’ and ‘solipsism, a somatics of trembling self-absorption’. 10 In the readings that follow, I suggest that the swoon is intimately bound up with the textual

in Swoon
Queering origin stories and questioning the visitable past
Julie Rivkin

evidence of his own ‘private life’. But this destruction of the ‘evidence’ ironically made space for the biographical projects that would fill in that blank, the construction of everything from Leon Edel’s Master to the Queer James of our own era. Hollinghurst’s novel follows a similar biographical trajectory, his elusive Cecil Valance converted into a patriotic monument and then reclaimed for a different, though no less political, agenda. Secrets are invariably sexual secrets, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has convincingly argued,12 and Hollinghurst makes explicit what James

in Alan Hollinghurst