CFP: Desire and Queer Genders in Early Twentieth-Century Literature (3/15/06; MLA '06)

full name / name of organization: 
Chris Coffman
contact email: 

Desire and Queer Genders in Early Twentieth-Century Literature
Proposed Special Session for the Modern Language Association,
Philadelphia, 12/27/06-12/30/06

As recent work in transgender studies by scholars such as Judith
Halberstam (Female Masculinity and In a Queer Time and Place) and Jay
Prosser (Second Skins) has shown, the category of gender has become
especially productive for queer scholarship on early twentieth-century
literature. While Diana Fuss (Identification Papers) and others have
explored the way in which identification, understood in psychoanalytic
terms, confounds the project of staking claim to identities, there has
been little work in queer theory that has sought to understand the
difficulties that desire poses for that same project. Accustomed to
thinking of the subject in a Freudian manner—as formed by the history of
his or her identifications—we have come, in turn, to consider gender to be
the product of identification alone. What this occludes is the
possibility that desire--whether our own or that of our objects of
desire--might have as much of a pull as identification on our relationship
to gender, and, as such, be fraught with difficulties that demand our

For a proposed Special Session at the 2006 Modern Language Association
Convention in Philadelphia (December 27-30, 2006), I am soliciting
abstracts of papers that consider early twentieth-century literature on
queer gender identities and/or identifications in tandem with the concept
of desire. What pull does desire have on gender? Please send a 250-word
abstract of your paper—not the paper itself—by March 15, 2006 to me at

All scholars submitting abstracts will be notified by March 31 about
whether their papers have been included in my proposal, and will need to
be members of the MLA by that time.

Chris Coffman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Received on Sat Feb 11 2006 - 14:45:45 EST