Cover image for A critical introduction to queer theory
A critical introduction to queer theory
Sullivan, Nikki, 1962-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
vii, 232 pages ; 24 cm
The social construction of same-sex desire: sin, crime, sickness -- Assimilation or liberation, sexuality or gender? -- Queer: a question of being or a question of doing? -- Queer race -- Performance, performativity, parody, and politics -- Transsexual empires and transgender warriors -- Queering 'straight' sex -- Community and its discontents -- Sadomasochism as resistance? -- Fetishism(s) and the politics of perversion -- Queering popular culture.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ76.25 .S86 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory explores the ways in which sexuality, subjectivity and sociality have been discursively produced in various historical and cultural contexts.

The book begins by putting gay and lesbian sexuality and politics in historical context and demonstrates how and why queer theory emerged in the West in the late twentieth century. Sullivan goes on to provide a detailed overview of the complex ways in which queer theory has been employed, covering a diversity of key topics including: race, sadomasochism, straight sex, fetishism, community, popular culture, transgender, and performativity. Each chapter focuses on a distinct issue or topic, provides a critical analysis of the specific ways in which it has been responded to by critics (including Freud, Foucault, Derrida, Judith Butler, Jean-Luc Nancy, Adrienne Rich and Laura Mulvey), introduces key terms, and uses contemporary cinematic texts as examples.

Author Notes

Nikki Sullivan is a lecturer in the Department of Critical and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Like Fuss's Inside/Out (CH, May'02), Hall's Queer Theories (CH, Jun'03), and Jagose's Queer Theory (1996), this book is a succinct, pedagogically designed introduction. This reviewer admires this textbook's clarity in tracing intellectual roots and vibrancy in reporting major debates, but the problem for teachers is that Sullivan (critical and cultural studies, Macquarie Univ.) offers no examples of how queer theory informs an object of study. She aims "to queer--to make strange," "frustrate," "counteract," "delegitimize," "camp up--heteronormative knowledges and institutions," which seemingly casts her project as either philosophical or sociological. But her queering is directed at other theories about gender, sexuality, desire, race, performativity, transsexuality, community, S/M, fetishism, pop culture. For her, queering is a metatheory; any idea can be queered, but because queering is subversive and localized, it refuses system. Thus, she offers no sustained explanatory example for any particular text, movie, or pop culture object. Sullivan asserts the value of queer politics, which turns out to be hit-and-run guerrilla attacks that at best momentarily "destabilize" and shake up things. Her politics offers little to restructure or replace heteronormitivity. As classroom text, Sullivan's work is heady with vibrant debate and slim with heuristics; her intellectual clarity is stunning. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels and libraries. D. N. Mager Johnson C. Smith University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. v
1 The Social Construction of Same-Sex Desire: Sin, Crime, Sicknessp. 1
2 Assimilation or Liberation, Sexuality or Gender?p. 22
3 Queer: A Question of Being or A Question of Doing?p. 37
4 Queer Racep. 57
5 Performance, Performativity, Parody, and Politicsp. 81
6 Transsexual Empires and Transgender Warriorsp. 99
7 Queering 'Straight' Sexp. 119
8 Community and its Discontentsp. 136
9 Sadomasochism as Resistance?p. 151
10 Fetishism(s) and the Politics of Perversionp. 168
11 Queering Popular Culturep. 189
Bibliographyp. 207
Indexp. 225