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Queer Constellations: Subcultural Space in the Wake of the City

Dianne Chisholm
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Queer Constellations
    Book Description:

    Queer Constellations investigates the dreams and catastrophes of recent urban history viewed through new queer narratives of inner-city life. Dianne Chisholm introduces readers to new practices of walking, seeing, citing, and remembering the city in works by Neil Bartlett, Samuel R. Delany, Robert Glück, Alan Hollinghurst, Gary Indiana, Eileen Myles, Sarah Schulman, Gail Scott, Edmund White, and David Wojnarowicz.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9628-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Preface
    (pp. IX-XIV)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. XV-XVIII)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. XIX-XX)
  6. INTRODUCTION. Sodom and Gomorrah in the Era of Late Capitalism; or, A Return to Walter Benjamin
    (pp. 1-62)

    This is a book about queer city writing and its critical affinities with Walter Benjamin’s city writing. One of the most compelling investigations of urban reality today is being conducted by queer peripatetic narrative. The authors of this investigation are, like Benjamin, city readers, walkers, dreamers, lovers. And, like Benjamin, they invent graphic literary techniques to transform reading, walking, dreaming, and cruising the city into a praxis of amplified perception and cognition. Producers and performers of streetwise subculture, they reenact Benjamin’s techniques with renewed inventiveness to contest the distraction of today’s mass media. What, above all, they share with Benjamin...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Love at Last Sight; or, The Dialectics of Seeing in the Wake of the Gay Bathhouse
    (pp. 63-100)

    Histories of the gay bathhouse share Aragon’s hypothesis that “baths would seem to be the ideal space for physical relationships and, even more.”¹ This is not to say that gay revisionary historiography typically subscribes to surrealist ideas and techniques. Histories of the gay bathhouse pose an exception in that, like Aragon’s haunting of the ruins of modern industrial Paris, they evoke the eros of recently devastated urban space. In both texts—surrealism’s and gay history’s—the bathhouse figures uncannily as the ghost of a love that will not be laid to rest or that restlessly seeks its dwelling in the...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The City of Collective Memory
    (pp. 101-144)

    How does the city figure in narratives of memory and history forthcoming from erotic subjects whose social existence is a product of the city itself? If lesbians, gays, and queers of all sorts owe their emergence to the industrial metropolis, where they were hailed as a new “city type” in police reports and newspaper stories and, no less scandalously, in the first urban poetry (Baudelaire’sLes Fleurs du mal, Whitman’sLeaves of Grass), then how do they figure the city in genealogies of their own telling? How do they see themselves arising and enduringwithinurban culture butwithoutthe...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Queer Passages in Gai Paris; or, Flâneries through the Paradoxes of History
    (pp. 145-194)

    If London, Manhattan, and Montreal can be reclaimed for queer collective memory by a peripatetics of cruising, what prospective queer encounters are posed bygai Paris? Site of political, industrial, and surrealist revolution, Paris is modernity’s exemplary dream city. Parisian cafés and cabarets, boulevards and bohemias have paid host to a century of erotic refugees and tourists, including such queer city lovers and English language writers as Oscar Wilde, Djuna Barnes, John Glassco, and Edmund White. Home of the illustrious Passages, Paris is the birthplace of the flâneur, the archetypal urban wanderer. If cruising is a distinctively queer spatial practice...

  10. CHAPTER 4 The Lesbian Bohème
    (pp. 195-244)

    Reading these statements, one is struck by the conflicting perspectives onRent, Broadway’s hit musical that stars East Village bohemia. For the cultural theorist,Rentsignifies the latest production of a long and continuous history of bohemian resistance to “bourgeois modernity.”¹ For the urban sociologist,Rentsignifies an aesthetic obfuscation of East Village social relations that exploits bohemian images to entertain middle-class spectators and investors.² For the resident artist,Rentsignifies a betrayal of gay and lesbian artists who laid behind-the-scenes “groundwork” for Jonathan Larson’s popular staging of their bohemian community.³ Perspectives collide even where they would imply common interests....

  11. CONCLUSION. Millennial Metropolis: Blasting a Queer Era out of Homogeneous History
    (pp. 245-256)

    Benjamin’s highlighting of Max Nordau’s reading of Théophile Gauthier’sCaprices et zizagscaptions the ironic truth of Gauthier’s vision of Paris in decline.¹ The city is destroyed not by rats but by a sanitizing and aggrandizing urban renewal that drives them away only to generate a scourge of insurgency by the working poor whose slums have been razed in the process. His citation (of a citation) demonstrates the dialectical strategy of juxtaposing images. It prompts us to see the foundation and destruction of postrevolutionary development and an encapsulation of the metropolitan era: Paris artistically embellished with panoramic, rat-free boulevards (Haussmann’s...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 257-320)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 321-340)
  14. Index
    (pp. 341-353)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 354-354)