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Saturday, October 6 • 9:00am - 10:25am
Queer Enough: Radical Representations of Maternity and Desire

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Many contemporary writers have been queering maternity for years now. Sarah Vap’s poetry collections Faulkner’s Rosary and Viability, Ariana Reines’ The Cow, Catherine Wagner’s Macular Hole, and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, are just a few of the texts that seek to deconstruct and destabilize heteronormative notions of motherhood, capitalist biopower, agency, physical and emotional labor, otherness and difference. These women have chosen writing as a means to convey an experience of the maternal that is both generative and metaphoric as well as autobiographical and literal, and it is the metaphorical sense that this paper investigates most closely, looking at how language itself is destabilized, and transformed, in practices of queering. “I had spent a lifetime devoted to Wittgenstein’s idea that the inexpressible is contained — inexpressibly! — in the expressed . . . Its paradox is, quite literally, why I write, or how I feel able to keep writing,” as Nelson says. When we learn to practice defining, examining, and (when appropriate) shedding our assumptions, we discover new freedom and flexibility. Queering, as an act of ongoing transformation—much like metaphoric thinking—is one way to do that. Thinking of queer as a verb is liberating because it becomes something we can choose to do, in much the same way that bell hooks suggests making love an action and a choice, rather than only thinking of it as a noun. Each time we discover a new word or identity or category, we can queer it. And when we create new words or identities, we can queer them. It’s a practice, rather than a goal or finished product.


Virginia Konchan

Author of a poetry collection, The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017), and two chapbooks, including That Tree is Mine (dancing girl press, 2018), Virginia Konchan's poetry has appeared in The New Yorker... Read More →
avatar for Danielle Pafunda

Danielle Pafunda

Assistant Professor of English, University of Maine
Danielle Pafunda is author of nine books including the recent Beshrew (Dusie Press) and The Dead Girls Speak in Unison (Bloof Books), and the forthcoming The Book of Scab (Ricochet Editions) and Spite (Ahsahta Press 2020, Sawtooth finalist). She has taught at the University of Wyoming... Read More →

Mg Roberts

Kelsey Street Press
Mg Roberts is a multimedia artist, poet, and teacher. She is the author of the poetry collections Anemal Uter Meck (Black Radish Books, 2017) and not so, sea (Durga Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in Dusie, Bombay Gin, Web Conjunctions, Elderly and elsewhere. Currently she is... Read More →

Sarah Vap

Sarah Vap is the author of six books of poetry and poetics, including her most recent End of the Sentimental Journey (Noemi Press, 2013) and Viability (Penguin, 2016). Her seventh book, Winter, is forthcoming from Noemi Press in 2018. She is Core Faculty at the Drew University MFA... Read More →

Catherine Wagner

Professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program, Miami University
Catherine Wagner is author of Nervous Device (City Lights, 2012), My New Job (Fence, 2009), Macular Hole (Fence, 2005), and Miss America (Fence, 2001). Her work has been anthologized in the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry, Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative... Read More →

Saturday October 6, 2018 9:00am - 10:25am EDT
136 DeBartolo Hall

Attendees (9)