Comment dit-on queer? Queer Theory in French

full name / name of organization: 
Adam J. Dexter / NeMLA
contact email: 

47th Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
Hartford, Connecticut, USA
17 March - 20 March 2016


Although French-language theorists such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Monique Wittig have been fundamental in thinking about queer theory in English, queer theory's application in Francophone countries has generally proved less successful than in the United States. For instance, there is little consensus on how to translate "queer" into French: some French speakers in France prefer using anglicisms or awkward direct translations, while Québec, for example, has generally endorsed the use of "allosexuel" or "altersexuel." Furthermore, when Judith Butler's canonical text Gender Trouble appeared in French translation, over fifteen years after it had initially appeared in English, there was an uproar among French people, who were resistant to her ideas. Critics have generally agreed that this resistance to queer theory stems from a resistance to American cultural hegemony, wherein, as Klonaris & Thomadaki (2003) have argued, "the United States exports its dominant culture with as much enthusiasm as it exports its subcultures" (84, translation my own). Despite this, less critical attention has been given to queer theory's acceptance in other Francophone countries. In light of these questions, this panel invites contributions that examine resistance to queer theory in French-speaking countries. Papers should aim to examine the varying national, cultural, religious, linguistic, or sexual discourses that often prohibit its dissemination. This panel also invites papers that apply queer theory to a text. Papers that discuss what it means to be queer in a Francophone country, through close readings of literary works or visual media, are thus strongly encouraged.

Submit an abstract of 300-500 words, along with a short bio, at