Current Research Projects
Children's Literature as Enigmatic Signifier: This book project brings together my recent work on the queer recirculations of children’s literature and the interconnected histories of race and sexuality in psychoanalysis. Building on my essay “The Perversions of Children’s Literature,” the book examines the reading practices and recirculations of children’s literature in American contexts that expose the genre’s limits and possibilities for children whose lives are not reflected in the texts typically addressed to them. I read the recursive treatment of children’s literature’s engagement with sexuality in terms of Jean Laplanche’s concept of the enigmatic signifier and its reliance on the persistence of the "foreign body" across psychoanalytic thought.
Kidless Lit: This project takes as its point of departure the recent panics about declining birth rates in North America and the genres of writing produced in response to them. Considered in light of both global population demographics as well as resistance to the fetish of the child as the sine-qua non of reproduction itself, “kidless lit” might seem from the outset to name a narrative site of political refusal, where inhabiting the space of “shallowness” constitutes an assault on the overdetermined demands for unsustainable and utterly conventional reproduction. Without either refusing such a possibility or fixing “kidless lit” on the side of reproductive reproductive futurity, I explore the evolution of the concept of childlessness for the ways it might reorient our understanding of childhood as a site of experimentation in stranger sociability. Rather than spoiling relationships to childhood, biological non-reproduction positions us to denaturalize and thus reorient our still-prevailing view of the child as the sine qua non of reproduction itself.
Anti-Social Reproduction: Book project co-written with Sean O'Brien (Birkbeck) and Amy De'Ath (King's College London). This short book in preparation for the University of Minnesota's Forerunners series outlines the concept of Anti-Social Reproduction and explores a set of case studies that illustrate is traction for our contemporary moment. Anti-Social Reproduction (ASR) names a number of contradictory mechanisms by which the social fails to reproduce itself as such; or reproduces itself at the expense of the terms of sociability as usual; or creates the space in which seemingly anti-relational modes of being exceed their own negativity. Anti-social reproduction describes the violence of social reproduction itself, and the contradictory modes of living that persist in the dead ends of everyday life under capital. It also names, in turn, the psychic orientation toward these contradictory modes of living. In outlining the concept of Anti-Social Reproduction, our introduction to this short book will position the concept in response both to debates about queer theory’s anti-social thesis and Marxist-feminism’s engagement with social reproduction without resolving ASR into either alone (where the one supersedes the other) or merely treating them as the additive form of both together. We aim to illustrate how each of these approaches—the one psychoanalytic in its attention to the death drive’s organization of social relations, the other Marxian in its focus on the ways in which social relations are form-determined by value—offers us purchase on the problem of non-reproduction and capitalism’s seeming dead ends. The result is a concept that cannot be fully rationalized into either of these intellectual traditions and which helps us to understand both the structural constraints and political longings of the present as well as the temporal rhythms that make them intelligible. Our short treatise on Anti-Social Reproduction will lay out the historical antecedents of this concept from both vantage points more fully, while also attending carefully to the concept’s own productivity.
"At the Intersections of Gender: Building a Signature Area of Research Excellence" (with Susanne Luhmann (PI), Lois Harder, and Sara Dorow). Cluster Grant funded by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study. The KIAS Cluster grant supported the development of the University's Signature area, Intersections of Gender. More information about this initiative is available here: https://www.ualberta.ca/intersections-gender
Circulating Queerness: Before the Gay and Lesbian Novel. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018.
2) CO-EDITED BOOK
Curiouser: On the Queerness of Children (with Steven Bruhm). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.
3) EDITED JOURNAL ISSUE
“Childhood and Its Discontents.” Special Issue of ESC: English Studies in Canada. 38.3-4. Ed. and “Introduction” 1-24. (Double Issue: 330 pp. total)
4) JOURNAL ARTICLES (ALL PEER-REVIEWED)
“Typee and the Making of Adult Innocence” SAF: Studies in American Fiction. Spring 2019.
“Pornocracy’s Queer Circulations” Cultural Critique 100 (Summer 2018): 157-75.
“Reproduction/Non-Reproduction” Jeunesse: Young People. Texts. Cultures. 7.2 (2015): 148-161.
“Childhood and Its Discontents: An Introduction” Childhood and Its Discontents. (Special Double Issue) ESC: English Studies in Canada. 38.3-4. 1-24.
“The Perversions of Children’s Literature.” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. 3.2 (Winter 2011): 118-32.
“The Queer Traffic in Literature, Or Reading Anthologically” ESC: English Studies in Canada. 36.1 (March 2010): 81-108. (Winner of the F.E.L. Priestly Prize, 2012)
“Lyric Pronouncements, the Cachet of the Offended Reader, and the Limits of ‘The Public Good.’” ESC: English Studies in Canada. 29:3-4 (December 2003): 40-51.
“Soliloquy ‘Lately Spoken at the African Theatre’: Race and the Public Sphere in New York City, 1821" American Literature 73.1 (March 2001): 1-46. Co-authored with Michael Warner, Luis Iglesias, Sonia Di Loreto, Jeff Scraba, and Sandra Young. (Foerster Prize for best essay in American Literature 2003)
5) BOOK CHAPTERS
“The Little Transgender Mermaid: A Shape-Shifting Tale.” Seriality and Young People’s Texts: The Compulsion to Repeat. Ed. Mavis Reimer et al. Palgrave, 2014. 258-80.
“Alice Lost and Found: A Queer Book History.” Textual Transformations of Children’s Literature. Ed. Benjamin Lebfevre. New York: Routledge, 2012. 101-125.
with Susanne Luhmann. "The Capital 'I': Feminism, Language, Circulation." Punkt, Punkt, Komma, Strich? Geste, Gestalt, Bedeutug philosophischer Zeichenzetsung. [Period, Period, Comma, Hyphen? Gesture, Figure, and the Philosophical Meaning of Punctuation.] Editors Christine Abbt and Tim Kammasch. Bielefeld: transcript, 2009. 215-32.
“Henry James and the Sexuality of Literature: Before and Beyond Queer Theory.” The Blackwell Companion to Henry James. Ed. Greg Zacharias. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008. 309-23.
6) ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRIES
“Queer Studies” SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies. Accepted and forthcoming, Spring 2019.
7) BOOK REVIEWS
Jean Bobby Noble. Sons of the Movement: FtMs Risking Incoherence on a Post-Queer Cultural Landscape. In Atlantis: A Women’s Studies Journal. Spring 2007. 31.2.
Kathleen Weiler, ed. Feminist Engagements: Reading, Resisting, and Revisioning Male Theorists in Education and Cultural Studies. In Atlantis a Women’s Studies Journal. Fall 2003. 27:3.