Another Country

Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism

Scott Herring
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Another Country
    Book Description:

    The metropolis has been the near exclusive focus of queer scholars and queer cultures in America. Asking us to look beyond the cities on the coasts, Scott Herring draws a new map, tracking how rural queers have responded to this myopic mindset. Interweaving a wide range of disciplines - art, media, literature, performance, and fashion studies - he develops an extended critique of how metronormativity saturates LGBTQ politics, artwork, and criticism. To counter this ideal, he offers a vibrant theory of queer anti-urbanism that refuses to dismiss the rural as a cultural backwater.Impassioned and provocative, Another Country expands the possibilities of queer studies beyond its city limits. Herring leads his readers from faeries in the rural Midwest to photographs of white supremacists in the deep South, from Roland Barthes's obsession with Parisian fashion to a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel set in the Appalachian Mountains, and from cubist paintings in Lancaster County to lesbian separatist communes on the northern California coast. The result is an entirely original account of how queer studies can - and should - get to another country.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-9093-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: I Hate New York
    (pp. 1-30)

    I hate New York. It’s not just the oppressive summer heat, or the dearth of affordable housing, or the lack of decent water pressure. It’s not simply the city’s awesome capacity to imagine itself as the be-all and the end-all of modern queer life (no small feat, mind you). What I really hate is the casualness with which this move is dispatched, the taken-for-granted assumption that you want to be on that tiny island (but not some of those outer boroughs) and be there soon. That you want to get there someday, somehow, andget outof this godforsaken town....

  6. 1 Autobiographies of the Ex-Urban Queer
    (pp. 31-62)

    If Willa Cather, Charles Demuth, or James Weldon Johnson ever show up on a walking tour of lesbian and gay New York, know you’re being led down a blind alley. Recent promotions by lesbian and gay historical tour companies notwithstanding, none of these artists wholeheartedly endorsed the city’s pre-Stonewall queer urbanisms. They did, however, share two traits that probably won’t receive mention in a contemporary walking guide—geographic proximity to modern urbanized lesbians and gays that fast became geographic misgiving with regard to modern lesbian and gay urbanization.

    Each of these New York– based artists orbited bohemian cultures that facilitated the...

  7. 2 Critical Rusticity
    (pp. 63-98)

    At first glance, a rural farmhouse in Grinnell, Iowa (current pop., 9,205) seems an unlikely spot for a sustained campaign against the standardization of white urban gay male identity in the post-Stonewall United States. But consider this recollection of one holiday season in the winter of 1973:

    For Christmas that year I had bought Julia, one of my housemates, a subscription toCountry Women, a rural feminist journal out of Mendocino [a small coastal community in northern California]. Reading and lovingCountry Women, I wondered why there wasn’t a similar magazine for gay men. I just knew that I couldn’t...

  8. A color insert
    (pp. None)
  9. 3 Southern Backwardness
    (pp. 99-124)

    Online or off, nothing rattles metronormative gays more than the sight of “white trash” southerners cloaked in Confederate flags. In fall 2002 New York City’s Nikolai Fine Art Gallery exhibited Michael Meads’sEastaboga, a series of photographs that had previously been shown in Paris; Rotterdam; Ghent; Albany; New Orleans; LaGrange, Georgia; and at a Sotheby’s AIDS benefit. The title refers to a small, predominantly white, northeastern Alabama town of four thousand where Meads was born and raised, and the installation featured chrome color pictorials of Eastaboga residents taken from his extensive personal archive, one that spans from the early 1980s...

  10. 4 Unfashionability
    (pp. 125-148)

    We are each fashion’s victims. Take but two anecdotes from the previous decade. The first belongs to self-identified genderqueer crip activist Eli Clare who, in 1999, was “still learning the habits and manners of urban dykes” after she left her predominantly working-class hometown of Port Orford, Oregon, for the greener pastures of the Bay Area (135).¹ Settling uneasily in the lesbian communities of Oakland, California, she deemed herself an “exile,” alienated from the “urban, middle-class queer activists” that surrounded her (30), unfamiliar with their “trust funds, new cars, designer clothes, [and] trips to Paris” (37–8), and often treated “like...

  11. 5 Queer Infrastructure
    (pp. 149-180)

    Pennsyltucky: those sixty-odd counties that lie outside Pennsylvania’s largest two cities and their accompanying suburbs. If a lack of inspiration strikes, you could also refer to it as Pennsylbama. The entire state then becomes—so the tired joke goes—Pittsburgh on the West, Philadelphia on the East, with Kentucky or Alabama in between. The dismissive allusion to these two southern states attests that Pennsyltucky is rarely held up as an epicenter of cultural sophistication. One recent post to the online Urban Dictionary agrees. It defines the region as “rural parts of Pennsylvania with large concentrations of country folk, noted for...

  12. Coda: On the Borderlands of the Midwest
    (pp. 181-184)

    SOMEWHERE IN A small town in the Midwest—let’s call it Plainville, USA—there is a mobile home park near an interstate exit. Among the many working-class whites, there is a trailer rented out by a young Mexican migrant from a town “two hours south from Mexico City. It’s a very, very small town. It’s not like the city. I’m not sure how many people, but it’s a very, very small town.” He lives with his friend and both work in a local service industry. They’ve been doing this for over a decade, as have so many others: “There’s fifteen...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 185-222)
  14. Index
    (pp. 223-236)
  15. About the Author
    (pp. 237-237)