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Author St. Pierre, Scott J
Title Abnormal tongues: Style and sexuality in modern literature and culture
book jacket
Descript 216 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 69-09, Section: A, page: 3551
Adviser: Tobin A. Siebers
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Michigan, 2008
"Abnormal Tongues" is an analysis of the sexual politics of style. Many interpretive strategies of modern Western thought, it contends, are shaped by a poorly understood, yet powerful sexual technology we call "style." What seems to circulate as a neutral, even scientific term in literary criticism is instead a supple ideological force that saturates academic and popular culture as one of the most powerful, because one of the most subtle, ways we understand how literary expression makes individuals legible to others as "normal" or as "deviant" sexual subjects. The ancient concept of style is transformed by the expert discourses of modernity in order to secure heterosexuality's authorized use of language through what it figures as its "natural" condition of clarity and to disqualify homosexuality's use of language as what it terms excessive stylization
The project examines the major theoretical texts of literary stylistics and psychoanalysis---the two most important modern discourses of style that together produced its sexualization---focusing on the cases of three important modernist stylists who have each been appropriated by literary criticism as exemplary instances of style's presumed expression of authorial sexuality. Ernest Hemingway's reception both as masculine icon and as a simple and direct writer allow him and his partisans to partake of the privilege and acclaim awarded to the heterosexually-inflected notion of clarity. For Henry James and Gertrude Stein the opposite is the case: each has been understood to produce overly stylized writing that is often read as an expression of the author's shameful homosexuality. Each of these readings is fuelled by a normalizing demand in the modern West to apply to style what Foucault terms "a hermeneutics of desire." In opposition to this largely unrecognized practice, "Abnormal Tongues" argues that literary criticism needs a new, non-disciplinary understanding of style that will liberate critique from its problematically phobic heritage and de-couple style from the practice of sexual diagnosis
School code: 0127
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 69-09A
Subject Literature, American
Literature, English
Gender Studies
0591
0593
0733
Alt Author University of Michigan
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