Lesbian Studies, Now
In the contemporary cultural imagination, lesbian feminism holds all of mid-twentieth-century feminism’s highest aspirations and its worst mistakes. The figure of the lesbian looms large in the ever-present nostalgia for second-wave feminism and the early years of women’s studies, in eulogies to shuttered bars and bookstores, and in the promises and perils of butch-femme couplings and gender aesthetics that have been hailed as the precursor to contemporary gender nonconformity. Such longings are often met with critique, wherein lesbian separatism marks a supposedly quaint experiment that was ruined by its insistent whiteness and gender essentialism.
We understand the struggle to articulate a shared vision of lesbian feminism and lesbian feminist theory as a sign of the vitality of lesbian political life and of the continued urgency of feminism as a tool to confront the cataclysmic realities of the present. Whereas women’s and gender studies has recently embraced rage as a distinctly feminist affect, we suggest confrontation as the heart of lesbian affective life, culture, and strategy. We use this special issue to stage and unfold the debates that mark the field as active, contested, and very much alive.
The special issue will be guest edited by Emily Owens, assistant professor of history at Brown University; Mairead Sullivan, associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Loyola Marymount University; and Suzanna Danuta Walters, professor of sociology, professor and chair of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and editor in chief of Signs at Northeastern University.
The deadline for submissions is December 15, 2023.
See the Signs website for the full call for papers and submission details.