Beyond This Town Lies a Life Much Sadder: Thinking Queer Rural Resistance

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) 2021
contact email: 

Ten years after the publication of Scott Herring’s Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism, rural life, queerness, and radical resistance against gender and sexual binarisms continue to be positioned as antithetical to each another in both academic discourse and in pop cultural imaginaries. Rather than following the common narratives that position anti-queer violence as inherent to rural spaces and the people living within them, this roundtable seeks to center the conditions of possibility that produce vibrant histories and robust contemporary articulations of rural queer resistance in and beyond the American South. Recognizing the deep interlinkages between race and space, this roundtable especially seeks out—though is by no means limited to—works by and about queer Black, Indigenous, and nonblack people-of-color navigating, surviving, thriving, and building community in rural spaces. Other topics may include, but are not limited to: theorizing from lived experience, social media possibilities of rural queer resistance, the queer country music movement, and fugitive histories of rural queer resistance.

Overall, this roundtable seeks to, like Herring, Halberstam, and other queer scholars of anti-metronormativity, destabilize the image of the metropole as inherently liberatory, and problematize narratives of rural spaces that posit them as inherently stagnant, violent, or in need of “saving.” Or, to quote Orville Peck’s “Queen of the Rodeo,” from which this roundtable takes its title, we seek to center rural queer possibilities that show that perhaps, in spite of metronormativity’s promise of a life much better, beyond the hills and hollers, beyond the small towns that rural queers have been taught not to claim, there lies, if not a life much sadder, a life whose visions of queerness and ruralness do not capture the full possibility of either.