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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Trauma and the elsewhere of queer : autobiography and the erotics of haunting Hoy, Alyson


This dissertation is an inquiry into the future of queer theory after the death of Eve Sedgwick. A founding scholar of the field, Sedgwick radically changed thinking about sexuality in history in ways that have critically defined queerness not only in relation to but also as temporality. Commenting on the brevity of a future that sees, too frequently, "the brutal foreshortening of so many queer life spans" (2003, p. 148), Sedgwick anticipated an end not of queer theory but rather of her own life. This dissertation argues that Sedgwick's death, far from signalling that queer theory is over, marks an occasion for re-evaluating the field that can be at once a return and a movement toward a future. In mourning and memorializing her, queer scholars enact a return to the politics that gave rise to Sedgwick's theorizing. At the same time we turn the focus inward, narrating in various forms of personal voice what her loss has meant. This dissertation continues and begins again the queer work forged by Sedgwick by drawing connections between the personal and the collective. Intervening into theories of negativity that have become pervasive in the field, it turns to her reparative mode of reading while still acknowledging the damage and aggression that are at the heart of psychic life. Weaving memoir and critical essay in a way that methodologically reference Sedgwick's innovative use of form, this dissertation queerly disrupts medicalized and pathologized accounts of illness, sexuality, and trauma. It brings into public view and connects to other histories accounts of my personal experiences of anorexia and self-harm in ways that mark a continuation of and, critically, are permitted by an engagement with Sedgwick's work. In this sense the question emerges: Might the future of queer theory be found in a reading of Sedgwick after Sedgwick?

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