The Queer Theory Essay

The Queer Theory Essay

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Queer, a word first used by the Scottish in 1508 to mean strange, peculiar, or eccentric, has evolved into a critical theory signifying resistance to the traditional views on gender and sexuality since the early 1990s. An Italian author and professor, Teresa de Lauretis coined the term “Queer Theory” during a conference on conjecturing gay and lesbian sexualities held at the University of California. Heavily influenced by deconstruction, post-structuralism, and feminism, queer theory challenges the practice of assigning people to different categories based on a person’s description. Queer theory constructs itself around the concept that identities are not fixed and therefore queer theorists “object to statements that would construct boundaries” (Kirsch 34). As various aspects and components contribute to a person’s identity, it is incorrect to limit human beings into a single group. Instead, queer theory broadens the discussion on individual identity, forming critiques on how factors such as gender and societal influences contribute to the way in which a person creates, maintains, and or changes his or her own identity. Hence, queer theorists distrust the legitimacy of “straight” ideology or heteronormativity, which holds that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation. Therefore “[looking] beyond an exclusive and fixed sexuality” (Dyer 4) and widening the interpretation of literary texts to include deviant types of sexual references and identities has become one of the major tasks of queer theorists. Attempting to resist the accustomed outlook that marriage and sexual relationships are only appropriate between a male and female, queer theory directs its main focus toward analyzing both the subtle and apparent non-normative ...

... middle of paper ...

...e that is lesbian as Marlow speaks of them together and not separately. By considering the different meanings behind words of a text, queer theory magnifies the possible sexual relations and connotations authors imply. Not interested in mere “straight” ideology, queer theory extends the interpretations on sexuality beyond the sheer obvious.

Works Cited

Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. London: Penguin Classics, 2007. Print.
Dyer, Richard. The Culture of Queers. New York: Routledge, 2002. Questia Online Library. Web. 24 Dec. 2010.
Edwards, Jason. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. New York: Routledge, 2008. Google Books. Web. 24 Dec. 2010.
Kirsch, Max. Queer Theory and Social Change. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Tendencies. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993. Print.

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