Skip to content Skip to navigation

Developing a Relationship with History

Monday, December 11, 2017 - 07:00

I can tell where my deepest loyalties lie within the post-modernist/historicist divide when I encounter articles like this one. At heart, although I think that a passionate involvement with one's subject of study can be a good thing, when monitored carefully, I'm suspicious of that passionate involvement being considered part of the subject of study. The author here discusses a hypothetical modern reader's interpretation of a hypothetical medieval person's hypothetical erotic interactions with the act of writing...and at that point I consider the topic to be an exercise in poetics, not in history. But that's just my take, of course.

Major category: 
Full citation: 

Farina, Lara. 2011. “Lesbian History and Erotic Reading” in The Lesbian Premodern ed. by Noreen Giffney, Michelle M. Sauer & Diane Watt. Palgrave, New York. ISBN 978-0-230-61676-9

Publication summary: 

 

A collection of papers addressing the question of what the place of premodern historical studies have in relation to the creation and critique of historical theories, and especially to the field of queer studies.

Farina, Lara. 2011. “Lesbian History and Erotic Reading”

Farina considers the tension between being a “passionate reader” of a text and being aroused by the act of reading, particularly for gay and lesbian readers whose lives are already hypersexualized by society. But she argues for the need for “erotic reading” in lesbian history. She discusses the concept of erotic reading especially as a counter to “received” non-erotic understandings of texts, for example, comparing erotic reading to “wonder” or “startlement” which are derided by literalist forces in historic studies. “Erotic” interaction with texts includes not just the act of reading but the act of writing--the tools and materials, such as manipulating a “phallic” pen. Another example would be devotional texts that encourage the reader to meditate on sensory experiences. Or texts that dwell on the experience or contemplation of love/desire.