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Curiouser

On the Queerness of Children

2004

Steven Bruhm and Natasha Hurley, editors

Curiouser

Classic essays and new work on the issue of childhood sexuality and its “queer resonances”

Curiouser explores the dominant narrative about children and what happens when it takes an unexpected, or queer, turn—when the stories of childhood must confront a child whose play does not conform to the ideal of child (a)sexuality.

Contributors: Lauren Berlant, Andre Furlani, Judith Halberstam, Ellis Hanson, Paul Kelleher, Kathryn R. Kent, James R. Kincaid, Richard D. Mohr, Michael Moon, Kevin Ohi, Eric Savoy, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Michael Warner.

An excellent range of pieces that set up inquiry into the tangled-up qualities of sexual, queer children. Rather than produce extreme novelty, then, what this collection accomplishes, by creating a home where these essays have been familiarly united, is the drawing of our attention to queer theory’s more important, and I’d say more dynamic, objects of inquiry.

Criticism

Our culture has a dominant narrative about children: they are (and should stay) innocent of sexual desires and intentions. At the same time, children are officially, tacitly, assumed to be heterosexual. Curiouser is a book about this narrative and what happens when it takes an unexpected, or queer, turn—when the stories of childhood must confront a child whose play does not conform to the ideal of child (a)sexuality.

The contributors to Curiouser examine the ostensibly simple representations of children that circulate through visual images, life narrative, children’s literature, film, and novels. At issue in these essays are the stories we tell to children, the stories we tell about children, and the stories we tell ourselves as children—stories that ultimately frame what is normative and what is queer. From the fiction of Horatio Alger, Henry James, Djuna Barnes, and Guy Davenport to the spectacles of Michael Jackson, Calvin Klein, and The Exorcist; from the narrative structure of pedophilia to evangelical Christianity; from punk tomboyism to queer girl-scouting: these scholars of childhood and sexuality scrutinize queer childhood energies in an impressive range of cultural forms.

Contributors: Lauren Berlant, U of Chicago; Andre Furlani, Concordia U; Judith Halberstam, U of California, San Diego; Ellis Hanson, Cornell U; Paul Kelleher; Kathryn R. Kent, Williams College; James R. Kincaid, U of Southern California; Richard D. Mohr, U of Illinois, Urbana; Michael Moon, Johns Hopkins U; Kevin Ohi, Boston College; Eric Savoy, U of Montreal; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, CUNY Graduate Center; Kathryn Bond Stockton, U of Utah; Michael Warner, Rutgers U.


Curiouser

Steven Bruhm is associate professor of English at Mount St. Vincent University. He is the author of Reflecting Narcissus: A Queer Aesthetic (Minnesota, 2000) and Gothic Bodies: The Politics of Pain in Romantic Fiction.

Natasha Hurley has taught children’s literature and queer theory at Mount St. Vincent University and St. Mary’s University in Halifax.

Curiouser

An excellent range of pieces that set up inquiry into the tangled-up qualities of sexual, queer children. Rather than produce extreme novelty, then, what this collection accomplishes, by creating a home where these essays have been familiarly united, is the drawing of our attention to queer theory’s more important, and I’d say more dynamic, objects of inquiry.

Criticism

Hope for a new appreciation of what it means to be a child is at the heart of editors Steven Bruhn and Natasha Hurley. The essays are self-contained and can be read on their own, each adding a distinct voice to the forum on childhood queerness.

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