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The Ethics of Marginality

A New Approach to Gay Studies

1995
Author:

John Champagne
Foreword by Donald E. Pease

The Ethics of Marginality

An original and timely critique which moves gay studies beyond both identity politics and the “rights” discourse, as it questions whose interests are served in an uncritical celebration of the Other. Champagne analyzes a number of recent films, including Paris is Burning, Urinal, and Marlon Riggs' 1989 video Tongues Untied, along with gay pornography. He uses the work of such critics as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Gayatri Spivak, as he establishes a ground-breaking and controversial new theoretical model for studies of the Other.

An original and timely critique which moves gay studies beyond both identity politics and the “rights” discourse, as it questions whose interests are served in an uncritical celebration of the Other. Champagne analyzes a number of recent films, including Paris is Burning, Urinal, and Marlon Riggs' 1989 video Tongues Untied, along with gay pornography. He uses the work of such critics as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Gayatri Spivak, as he establishes a ground-breaking and controversial new theoretical model for studies of the Other.

An important and provocative intervention in current academic discourses on gender and sexuality.

Robin Wood, author of Hitchcock’s Films Revisited and Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan

Is celebration of culturally marginalized people by the dominant culture actually benefitting those who are oppressed? Whose stakes are served in such a celebration, and how are existing power relations altered? These are some of the questions John Champagne asks in this original and timely critique, which moves gay studies beyond both identity politics and the "rights" discourse within which much of contemporary gay studies is positioned.

Champagne argues that in the modern West, culturally marginalized people such as gays cannot define and legitimate their own existence outside the framework established for them by the dominant group. To illustrate his premise, Champagne analyzes a number of recent films, including Paris is Burning, Urinal, and Marlon Riggs' 1989 video Tongues Untied, along with gay pornography, using the work of such critics of difference as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Gayatri Spivak. He calls on the marginalized individual to elaborate a practice of critical self-conduct and to work to understand his or her own subjectivity as having been produced as an entity along a variety of different registers, only some of which might be said to be marginalized.

The Ethics of Marginality situates itself at the intersection of English, cultural studies, film studies, and gay and lesbian studies. It offers a powerful critique of contemporary approaches to studies of the "other," while promising to establish a groundbreaking and controversial new theoretical model for such studies.

The Ethics of Marginality

John Champagne is an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University, Erie, The Behrend College, where he teaches English. His critical writings have appeared in numerous journals; he is also a novelist, poet, and essayist.

Donald E. Pease is editor of the journal boundary 2.

The Ethics of Marginality

An important and provocative intervention in current academic discourses on gender and sexuality.

Robin Wood, author of Hitchcock’s Films Revisited and Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan