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Los Angeles Review of Books: Reproductive Futurism and Its (Dis)contents

By Veronica Hollinger
Los Angeles Review of Books

The Child to Come (Rebekah Sheldon)Rebekah Sheldon’s The Child to Come is a brilliant meditation on the figure of the child as both the promise of the future and the focus of our anxiety regarding that future. The Child to Comeexamines the concept of “reproductive futurism,” the investment of all our hopes for the future in our children. At first it may seem counterintuitive, or downright perverse, to question the long-standing association of children with futurity, with the extension of the human in time, with “life-itself.” After all, as Michael Jackson put it in 1985, “[w]e are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day.” By refusing such a seductive promise, Sheldon extends the radical challenge to heterosexual genealogy of Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (2004). Broadly, both Edelman and Sheldon effect a queer repositioning by refusing to take for granted the function of the child — as framed by reproductive necessity — to carry on the name of the Father. While Edelman’s No Future is less interested in the specificities of history, The Child to Come focuses specifically on American culture from the 1960s to the present.

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