University of Sussex
Ronan,_Joseph_Anthony.pdf (2.05 MB)

‘Sometimes I fear that the whole world is queer’: what bisexual theories, identities and representations can still offer queer studies

Download (2.05 MB)
posted on 2023-06-08, 20:59 authored by Joseph Anthony Ronan
This thesis examines the marginalization of bisexuality in contemporary British culture and in queer theory, and addresses a division in bisexual theory between identity-based and epistemological approaches. It proposes in response a bisexual reading, here termed ‘re/depositioning’. This interdisciplinary approach gives particular focus to the interrogation of bisexual textuality, rather than (only) to bisexuality as a subject of representation. Part I examines ways in which bisexuality is erased and relationships between bisexuality, queer theory and narrative. It then posits a bisexual critical practice as counter to the end-oriented progress narratives of fixed identity and capitalist production, and to the reduction of queer theory to a fixed oppositional stance. Part I also responds to the ‘temporal turn’ in queer theory – particularly in the work of Lee Edelman, Jose Esteban Muñoz and Elizabeth Freeman – which critiques ‘straight time’. The thesis advances a bisexual temporality distinct from the conflicting utopian and anti-utopian queer approaches to futurity. Part II of the thesis re/depositions a number of contemporary literary and cultural representations of male bisexuality. A chapter on the staging in The Buddha of Suburbia of adolescent sexuality and pop music repurposes damaging bisexual stereotypes; the denigration of bisexuality as ‘adolescent’ gives way, in this analysis, to a productive ‘textual immaturity’. The subsequent chapter reads Morrissey’s cultural performance as an embodied critique of heteronormativity which negotiates incompatibilities between radical theory and lived identity. A chapter on Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child reads that novel as a ‘bisexual camp’ text whose narrative structure and unnamed bisexualities critique the rewriting of bisexuality as gay, queer, or immature. A final chapter presents the thesis’s conclusions: that critical re-engagement with bisexuality strengthens the arguments of queer theory and offers possibilities for living that resist the reductive imperatives of straight time and heteronormative identity narratives whilst remaining liveable within them.


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • English Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)


    No categories selected