le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

queer theory and the child

i have not read, at all, in the children's lit + queer theory realm. I'm not sure how I managed to miss this. Jody Norton's good, though by necessity rudimentary, essay on transchildren is about it. Lee Edelman's No Future doesn't count, since Edelman is surely no children's lit scholar. The book (what I've read of it, anyway) is staggeringly insightful. There are essays and articles floating around, and a couple of books that have collected them; Curiouser is the only one that comes to mind.

I need to read in queer children's lit theory, but I'm wondering at the outset: is the child already always queer?

or: what does it mean to be a queer child? I believe fervently that children have a (or several) sexuality(ies), but i don't know that it is expressed the same way as adult sexualities. in some physiological ways, obviously not. but in that vast array of components that comprise queerness, what can or do appear in children?
when does queerness happen? when does gender happen, for that matter? is a child gendered from the moment its parent(s) learn its anatomical structure, and rush out to buy pink or blue bedding accordingly? sneakers with baseballs, or sneakers with princess crowns?
(aside: interestingly, and I need to dig in my program for details, a woman at the MAPACA conference last year told me that she worked on children's clothing; and that the pink and blue gendering of baby's gear was a very, very recent development - like in the last 30 years or so).

if, as i accept, gender is a construct, then WHOSE construct is it? or is it always a collaborative effort?

and why are we - and by this i mean everyone, myself most definitely included - so desperate to resolve things into binaries? i do it myself; when i see a person whose gender is not instantly apparent, i try to figure out: is that a man or a woman?
i catch myself at it, now, and stop the querying, but the "instinct" to ascertain gender remains intact.

and what is a queer space, anyway? all the theorists talk about this "space" - what is it? where is it? is it a literal space, a multidimensional, plottable, locatable area in the world? or is it an abstract, a kind of thought bubble, hovering outside the main action? OR, better still: a combination of both?