Queer Theory and Literary Studies I


Queer theory has had a strong impact on the study of gender and sexuality since the 1990s. Its main focus is the deconstruction of the binary gender system and heteronormativity as well as a trenchant critique of all kinds of identity politics and identitarian logics.

Queer has emerged as a critical force that undermines normative structures and explores and foregrounds those aspects which are excluded by such structures.

After more than two decades, queer itself has undergone a number of modifications and repositionings, boundary-crossings and redrawings of boundaries. One notable development has been, for example, a more sustained rethinking of queer in terms of intersectionality.

Queer has also left its traces in literary studies, as can be seen in the numerous analyses of texts through the lens of queer theory. The resulting array of rather diverse investigations are loosely classed as ‘queer readings’, a term predominantly but not exclusively connected with the literary and queer scholar Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, who has presented both incisive readings of individual texts and groundbreaking reflections on the epistemological potential of such readings.

The aim of our series of workshops is to explore the different facets of queer theory that can be made productive for the study of literature. Furthermore, in our project the various disciplinary affiliations of the participants as well as their different national and local contexts enter into the discussion as a major force of questioning and putting into perspective the quasi-natural and almost exclusive referencing of US-American sources in queer studies. This continues to trigger critical reflections on the implications of various local engagements with queer theory.

  • Partners: Humboldt University Berlin, University of Warsaw, University of Vienna
  • Project Lead: Prof. Dr. Eveline Kilian, Humboldt University Berlin
  • Year: 2019