University of Sussex
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Queer capital: Marxism in queer theory and post-1950 poetics

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posted on 2023-06-09, 19:04 authored by Natalia Raha
This creative and critical doctoral dissertation undertakes a detailed consideration of the uptake of Marxism in twenty-first century queer theory, constituting this body of work as the field of queer Marxism. The dissertation analyses significant contributions to the field, such as the work of Rosemary Hennessy (2000, 2013) and Kevin Floyd (2009), alongside the key concepts elaborated in Marx’s Capital, value, labour and the commodity, in order to establish a solid theoretical basis for queer Marxism. The thesis includes an invigoration of Marxist feminist social reproduction theory through a queer and trans studies perspective, establishing the concept of queer and trans social reproduction through a synthesis of historical materialist methodology and intellectual herstories of queer and trans activist groups Wages Due Lesbians and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. The thesis argues that queer Marxism elaborates an interrelation between economic and cultural spheres that understands their influence on material conditions and affect in the political present. It elaborates the affective condition of transfeminine brokenness in the context of contemporary challenges facing liberal transgender politics. Queer Marxist theory is then deployed in an extended literary analysis that focuses on the work and life of gay femme poet John Wieners, and is finally developed in a creative portfolio – a collection of poems of sirens / body & faultlines. On the basis of archival research, the thesis situates Wieners’ writing and political activities of the 1970s in the Gay and Mental Patients’ Liberation movements of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, as a form of queer labour, which includes the production of Gay Liberation newspaper Fag Rag and the publication of Wieners’ Behind the State Capitol, or Cincinnati Pike (1975) by Boston’s Good Gay Poets. Furthermore, reading letters, journals and other poems through a Mad Studies lens, I elaborate Wieners’ survival of numerous psychiatric incarcerations from 1960 – 1972 in the context of institutional homophobia, and its influence on his politics and aesthetics. of sirens / body & faultlines develops a linguistically-innovative queer lyric, elaborating experiments in language and life, amid contemporary transformations of capital and neoliberal regimes of social and economic divestment in London. Inhabiting the present tense and attending closely to to its material conditions, the poems deploy language and its visual permutations on the page in the service of queer and trans life and a queer of colour, anticapitalist politics that refuses assimilation, attempting to rupture the syntax of homonormativity and transnormativity. The poems capture moments of political and affective affirmation and tumult, provide radical elaborations and defamilarisations of trans and queer embodiment under the conditions of neoliberal capital disinvestment, wage labour, and queer life while dreaming in the service of queer and trans world-making.


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