Queer Philologies
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Queer Philologies
Sex, Language, and Affect in Shakespeare's Time

Jeffrey Masten

368 pages | 7 x 10 | 51 illus.
Cloth 2016 | ISBN 9780812247862 | $59.95s | Add to cart || Outside N. America | £52.00
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9780812293173 | $59.95s | £39.00 | Add to cart || About
A volume in the series Material Texts
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"Masten has much to teach us about the consequence of learning to hear how words resonated for Shakespeare's first audiences, and how they can be made to sound and resound today . . . [A]s Masten indicates, queer philology need not be confined to the study of terms used to describe and 'inscribe' sex and gender, but should be extended to include all the terms of the social exclusions that currently concern us." -Times Literary Supplement

"Queer Philologies, Jeffrey Masten's brilliant new book, makes the queerness of linguistic relations into the stuff of a genuine page-turner. Doing nothing less than reinventing the field of philology for the twenty-first century, Masten charts striking moments in the two-way traffic between words and world, exploring how accident and error figure in the shaping of sexuality and multiply its significations beyond all scholarly control. To dip into this book is to recognize that it's destined to become a classic, one of the works without which queer theory and early modernism no longer can be thought."—Lee Edelman, Tufts University

"A masterpiece as well as a great intellectual joy. Masten finds in philology and in the history of the book a new approach to the analysis of norms and normativities—that is, to practices of standardization, including the standardization of sex and gender. This queer manifesto for the mutual implication of the history of sexuality and the materiality of language is as powerful as it is scrupulous, as original as it is radical. No one who reads this book will ever think of the letter Q in the same way again."—David Halperin, University of Michigan

"A brilliant, exacting, original book. Coherently organized, deftly argued, elegant in style, and utterly unique, Queer Philologies is not only full of insights relevant to scholars of early modern literature; it advances paradigm-shattering proposals relevant to queer studies scholars and historians of sexuality more generally."—Valerie Traub, University of Michigan

"Jeffrey Masten's witty and searching book will help a new generation of students to recover the philological grounds for the early modern period's sexual relations and gender constructions. Deploying and extending his signature combination of queer theory and textual scholarship, Masten gives us startling new readings of key works, words, and even letters that leave them looking very queer indeed."—William Sherman, Victoria and Albert Museum

For Jeffrey Masten, the history of sexuality and the history of language are intimately related. In Queer Philologies, he studies particular terms that illuminate the history of sexuality in Shakespeare's time and analyzes the methods we have used to study sex and gender in literary and cultural history. Building on the work of theorists and historians who have, following Foucault, investigated the importance of words like "homosexual," "sodomy," and "tribade" in a variety of cultures and historical periods, Masten argues that just as the history of sexuality requires the history of language, so too does philology, "the love of the word," require the analytical lens provided by the study of sexuality.

Masten unpacks the etymology, circulation, transformation, and constitutive power of key words within the early modern discourse of sex and gender—terms such as "conversation" and "intercourse," "fundament" and "foundation," "friend" and "boy"—that described bodies, pleasures, emotions, sexual acts, even (to the extent possible in this period) sexual identities. Analyzing the continuities as well as differences between Shakespeare's language and our own, he offers up a queer lexicon in which the letter "Q" is perhaps the queerest character of all.

Jeffrey Masten is Professor of English and of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University and author of Textual Intercourse: Collaboration, Authorship, and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama.

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