State of the Field: Critical Queer/Race Studies

By: LeiLani Dowell


  1. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

“GLQ publishes scholarship, criticism, and commentary in areas as diverse as law, science studies, religion, political science, and literary studies. Its aim is to offer queer perspectives on all issues touching on sex and sexuality.

2. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society

“Recognized as the leading international journal in women’s and gender studies, Signs is at the forefront of new directions in feminist scholarship. Challenging the boundaries of knowledge concerning women’s and men’s lives in diverse regions of the globe, Signs publishes scholarship that raises new questions and develops innovative approaches to our understanding of the past and present. What makes feminist scholarship published in Signs distinctive is not necessarily the subject of investigation or particular methods of inquiry but the effort to cultivate alternative research practices that further feminist, queer, and antiracist goals of social transformation.”

3. Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters

“Texas A&M University sponsors Callaloo, and the Johns Hopkins University Press publishes the journal four times each year. The central purposes of Callaloo are:

  • “to provide a publication outlet, in English or English translations, for new, emerging, and established creative writers who produce texts in different languages in the African Diaspora; and
  • “to serve as a forum for literary and cultural critics who write about the literature and culture of the African Diaspora”


  1. “Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low,” C. Riley Snorton, 2014.

“Since the early 2000s, the phenomenon of the ‘down low’—black men who have sex with men as well as women and do not identify as gay, queer, or bisexual—has exploded in media and popular culture. C. Riley Snorton traces the emergence and circulation of the down low, demonstrating how these portrayals reinforce troubling perceptions of black sexuality generally.”

  1. “Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings,” Juana María Rodríguez, 2014.

“Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures and Other Latina Longings proposes a theory of sexual politics that works in the interstices between radical queer desires and the urgency of transforming public policy, between utopian longings and everyday failures. Considering the ways in which bodily movement is assigned cultural meaning, Juana María Rodríguez takes the stereotypes of the hyperbolically gestural queer Latina femme body as a starting point from which to discuss how gestures and forms of embodiment inform sexual pleasures and practices in the social realm.”

  1. “Wandering: Philosophical Performances of Racial and Sexual Freedom,” Sarah Jane Cervenak, 2014.

“Combining black feminist theory, philosophy, and performance studies, Sarah Jane Cervenak ruminates on the significance of physical and mental roaming for black freedom. She is particularly interested in the power of wandering or daydreaming for those whose mobility has been under severe constraint, from the slave era to the present. Since the Enlightenment, wandering has been considered dangerous and even criminal when associated with people of color. Cervenak engages artist-philosophers who focus on wayward movement and daydreaming, or mental travel, that transcend state-imposed limitations on physical, geographic movement. From Sojourner Truth’s spiritual and physical roaming to the rambling protagonist of Gayl Jones’s novel Mosquito, Cervenak highlights modes of wandering that subvert Enlightenment-based protocols of rationality, composure, and upstanding comportment. Turning to the artists Pope.L (William Pope.L), Adrian Piper, and Carrie Mae Weems, Cervenak argues that their work produces an otherworldly movement, an errant kinesis that exceeds locomotive constraints, resisting the straightening-out processes of post-Enlightenment, white-supremacist, capitalist, sexist, and heteronormative modernity. Their roaming animates another terrain, one where free, black movement is not necessarily connected to that which can be seen, touched, known, and materially valued.”


  1. American Studies Association annual meeting (this year: “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain In the Post-American Century, November 6-9, 2014: Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles, CA”)
  1. Black Queer Sexualities Studies Collective annual conference (this year: “Legacies of Black Feminisms: A Black Queer Sexuality Studies Graduate Student Conference” at Princeton University, October 11, 2014)
  1. Modern Language Association annual convention (this year’s Presidential Theme: “Negotiating Sites of Memory,” Vancouver, 8–11 January 2015)


  1. Sexual Cultures NYU Press series:

“Since its inception in 1998, the Sexual Cultures series has sought to expand the potential of queer theory by unfixing the subjects of LGBTQ studies. Taking our cue from women of color feminisms and queer of color critique, the series seeks projects that offer alternative mappings of queer life in which questions of race, class, gender, temporality, religion, and region are as central as sexuality. Such multi-focused and open-ended explorations are even more vital today, when the mainstreaming of lesbian and gay lives and cultures risks foreclosing other possible ways of being in, and relating to, the world.”

  1. Perverse Modernities:

“Perverse Modernities transgresses modern divisions of knowledge that have historically separated the consideration of sexuality, and its concern with desire, gender, bodies, and performance, on the one hand, from the consideration of race, colonialism, and political economy, on the other, in order to explore how the mutual implication of race, colonialism, and sexuality has been rendered perverse and unintelligible within the logics of modernity. Books in the series have elaborated such perversities in the challenge to modern assumptions about historical narrative and the nation-state, the epistemology of the human sciences, the continuities of the citizen-subject and civil society, the distinction between health and morbidity, and the rational organization of that society into separate spheres. Perverse modernities, in this sense, have included queer of color and queer anticolonial subcultures, racialized sexualized laborers migrating from the global south to the metropolis, nonwestern desires and bodies and their incommensurability with the gendered, national or communal meanings attributed to them, and analyses of the refusals of normative domestic “healthy” life narratives by subjects who inhabit and perform sexual risk, different embodiments, and alternative conceptions of life and death. The project also highlights intellectual “perversities,” from disciplinary infidelities and epistemological promiscuity, to theoretical irreverence and heterotopic imaginings”

  1. Series Q:

“Series Q was launched in 1993 by editors Michèle Aina Barale, Jonathan Goldberg, Michael Moon, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. It brought a theoretical and interdisciplinary lens to gay and lesbian studies, approaching questions of sexuality from a queer angle. Intersections of sexuality with cultural studies, gender theory, social theory and literary theory characterize many of the books in the series in their embrace of questions of gender, culture, race and nationality, sexuality, and processes of representation.”


  1. QUEER SPECULATIONS: Thirteenth Annual Lecture Series in LGBT Studies at the University of Maryland. This year: JUANA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ Friday, April 17, 2015

“Juana María Rodríguez is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also affiliated faculty with the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance studies; the Berkeley Center for New Media; the Center for Race and Gender; and the Center for the Study of Sexual Cultures. Professor Rodríguez is the author of two books, Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (NYU 2003) and Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures and Other Latina Longings (NYU 2014) and has published numerous articles related to her research interests in sexuality studies, queer activism in a transnational American context, critical race theory, technology and media arts, and Latin@ and Caribbean studies. She is currently working on a third book project that considers the intersection of age, sexuality, race and visual culture.”

  1. Sonoma State University Queer Lecture Series

Presentations in 2014 include

  • Julio Salgado — I Exist: My Undocumented and Queer Narrative Through Art
  • Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler — Black, Trans and Indie
  • Raquel Gutiérrez — Radical Narcissism
  • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarashina — F*cking Sh*t Up For Freedom: QTPOC Performance Beyond Survival
  • Ryan Lee Cartwright — Peculiar Places: A Queer/Crip History of Rural Nonconformity
  • Michael Nava — From Mental Illness to Marriage Equality: the LGBT Rights Movement
  • Jai Arun Ravine — Mixed Race, Mixed Gender, Mixed Genre: Dis-fluency and Illegibility in
  • Identity and Art-making
  • Toby Beauchamp — X-Ray Specs: Transgender Politics and Surveillance at the Airport
  • Maisha Johnson — Art and Creativity in LGBTQ Justice Work
  • Kate Bornstein — Sex, Bullies, and You: How America’s bully culture is messing with your sex life
  • Marcia Ochoa — Queen for a Day: Transformistas, beauty queens and the performance of femininity in Venezuela
  1. Queer Futures series at Columbia University

“Queer Futures is a new series that invites Queer Studies scholars to discuss the future of queerness relating to the body, gender, femininity, masculinity and American society.”


  1. Bully Bloggers:

Bloggers include LISA DUGGAN, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU; J. JACK HALBERSTAM, Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at USC; JOSÉ ESTEBAN MUNOZ, Associate Professor and  Chair of Performance Studies at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University; and TAVIA NYONG’O, Associate Professor of Performance Studies at NYU.

  1. Feminist Wire:

“The mission of The Feminist Wire is to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally. Of particular critical interest to us are social and political phenomena that block, negate, or limit the satisfaction of goods or ends that humans, especially the most vulnerable, minimally require for living free of structural violence. The Feminist Wire seeks to valorize and sustain pro-feminist representations and create alternative frameworks to build a just and equitable society.”

  1. Black Girl Dangerous:

“Black Girl Dangerous is the brainchild of writer Mia McKenzie. What started out as a scream of anguish has evolved into a multi-faceted forum for expression. Black Girl Dangerous seeks to, in as many ways possible, amplify the voices, experiences and expressions of queer and trans* people of color. Black Girl Dangerous is a place where we can make our voices heard on the issues that interest us and affect us, where we can showcase our literary and artistic talents, where we can cry it out, and where we can explore and express our “dangerous” sides: our biggest, boldest, craziest, weirdest, wildest selves.”


  1. C. Riley Snorton: @CRileySnorton
  2. Kandice Chuh: @KCatGC
  3. Herman Bennett: @HermanBennett1


  1. CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies: @CLAGSNY
  2. SchomburgCenter: @SchomburgCenter
  3. Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality: the Locus of Interdisciplinary Feminist Scholarship at Columbia University: @IRWGS


  1. ENGL 80400. Kandice Chuh. “Queer(ing) Critique”. CUNY Grad Center, Spring 2015

“This course is organized around two questions: 1) what is queer critique?, and 2) what does it mean to queer critique?  To address them, we’ll read some of the hallmark texts in queer theory especially as it relates to cultural studies (including but not limited to work by Eve Sedgwick, Michel Foucault, Rod Ferguson, Lauren Berlant, José Esteban Muñoz, Siobhan Somerville, Jacqui Alexander, Jack Halberstam, and Judith Butler), and some of the work that has arguably queered the critical paradigms dominant in certain discourses and fields (including but not limited to work by David Eng, Gayatri Gopinath, Licia Fiol-Matta, Robert Reid-Pharr, Lisa Duggan, Madhavi Menon, and William Cohen).  Our aim will be not only to pay sustained attention to queer critique as an analytic approach and intellectual tradition, but also to consider the extent to which critique itself may be fashioned as queer — i.e., as non-normative, politically engaged, involved with matters of desire and attachment, erotics and embodied knowledge.  In the course of our discussions, we’ll attempt to apprehend some of the key terms and concepts organizing contemporary queer critique — e.g., affect, materiality, homonormativity, and temporality among others.”

  1. ENGL 76200. Meena Alexander. “Body, Affect, Landscape: Postcolonial Reckonings”. CUNY Grad Center, Spring 2015.

“How do issues of affect and embodiment play into postcolonial concerns with marked bodies, haunted landscapes, anxious histories? We will consider migration and displacement, bodies that are racially and sexually marked, public space and with it the shifting nature of cultural memory. Our exploration of affect and its intensities as crystallized in language, will include Ismat Chughtai’s short story `Lihaaf’ (`The Quilt’, 1942) about a high born woman and her maid —   a pair of lesbian lovers  — which drew the attention of the British colonial government. Chughtai was hauled into Lahore court under the Obscenity Laws. We will read fiction by writers such as Ananda Devi, M Ondaatje, U C Ali Farrah, A R Gurnah, poems by K Das, A.K.Ramanujan, and the New York poet A Notley. Questions of passage across the Indian Ocean, a liminal existence and with it the need to refashion the self emerge in autobiographical writings by M.K.Gandhi, A Ghosh and M Alexander. We will consider the phenomenological insights of Merleau-Ponty and work by theorists such as Appadurai, Bhabha , Berlant, Deleuze and Guattari, Debord, Gunew, Massumi, Merleau-Ponty, Sedgwick, Spivack, Stewart and Virno. In addition a short segment of the course will consider the concept of rasa from classical Indian aesthetics and its implications for contemporary affect theory.”

  1. ENGL 75000. Duncan Faherty. “Unsettled States: Rethinking Canonicity and Geography in Early U.S. Literature 1789-1859”.  CUNY Grad Center, Spring 2015.

“Previous configurations of early U.S. cultural production often framed the first decades of the Republic as characterized by issues of expansion, increased enfranchisement, consolidation, and progressive development. This course seeks to confront these residual figurations by thinking about how fracture, partisanship, ambiguity, and unsettlement might more generatively shape our engagement with this period. Moving beyond the contours of a mythic exceptionalist geography, we will explore emergent critical interest in the hemispheric, transnational, Atlantic, Black Atlantic, circum-Atlantic, and Oceanic dimensions of early U.S. cultural production; in so doing, we will attend to how varyingly literary geographies obscure or illuminate divergent bodies and canons. We will also consider how these spatial paradigms work in tandem with temporal ones by immersing ourselves in the ‘new critical interest in questions of history, temporality, and periodicity’ which, as Dana Luciano notes, has troubled ‘the when of our field,’ by complicating ‘the reflexive habits of periodization that organize fields [and, perhaps, canons] according to distinct and self-evident centuries.’ In particular we will consider how the Haitian Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase unsettled and reoriented cultural and political life in the United States, by taking up the challenge of trying to map how these events often appear, in Michael Drexler and Ed White’s accounting, through the use of a kind of ‘distorted articulation.’ We will also seek to read ‘cartographically,’ following what Andy Doolen has registered as the way texts ‘were embedded in the process of territorialization, explicitly addressing issues of possession and ownership’ so as to legitimize a range of state and non-state sanctioned actions and behaviors. As such, we will grapple with the shifting structures of feeling that define notions of democracy, empire, citizenship, and nation in the early Republic; moreover, we will investigate how the ‘feelings of structure’ serve to manage, manipulate, contain, and exclude particular bodies and possibilities from those emerging and contingent definitions. Finally, part of our consideration of questions about canonicity will take the form of archival research, as well as an exploration of the challenges and rewards of ‘recovery’ work.”