Imagining Queer Domesticities
Call for Contributions
I seek submissions of original completed essays for an edited collection of original scholarly research on imagining queer domesticities in literary, cultural, historical, and/or legal contexts. While of course queer people have always had domestic lives, the cultural imagination of queerness often situates queer people in public spaces—the gay bar, the public park or restroom as a cruising site, the Pride march or ACT UP protest—rather than in the space of home. At the same time, queer-identified people have also been represented as anti-domesticity, their lives as antithetically opposed to “traditional” home life—a position some queer activists and theorists have embraced. In the majority decision in the case of Doe v. Commonwealth’s Attorney of the City of Richmond (1975) by a 3-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, senior Circuit Judge Albert V. Bryan wrote that “homosexuality…is obviously no portion of marriage, home or family life.” Bryan’s opinion has been legally superseded since—most directly by U.S. v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Nonetheless, his rhetoric provides one example of ongoing cultural and legal efforts to understand domesticity—“marriage, home [and] family life”—as synonymous with (hetero)normativity. Such efforts keep the reality, both complex and mundane, of queer domestic life from being imaginable or understandable.
I invite contributions focusing on literary, cultural, legal, and/or historical texts that investigate the ways these texts participate in, resist, and revise the ways we imagine the relationship of queerness and domesticity. I am particularly interested in arguments that centralize the role of imagination in the cultural construction and the lived experience of queer domesticity, to help us think through the diversity of ways queer domesticity has been imagined, and the ways in which it has been unimaginable. The categorical negation in Judge Bryan’s language indicates that it is impossible for him to imagine any way in which homosexuality is, was, or could be a “portion of marriage, home or family life.” Simultaneously—and less visibly—this anti-homosexual definition of domesticity limits the way domesticity (queer or not) can be imagined. The limits of Judge Bryan’s imagination on the subject have direct impact, most clearly on the plaintiffs in the case he decided, but also in the broader culture. These and similar rulings that rely on understandings of domesticity that by definition exclude queer people help to create a cultural imaginary participated in by both queer and non-queer people. This context in turn influences not only future legal cases—which cases are brought, what decisions rendered—but also shapes the fictions produced by that culture, the kinds of stories we can tell, and the kinds of homes and private lives we can imagine for ourselves, or the non-normative living arrangements that we are willing or able to recognize as queerly domestic. How might queer domesticity, for instance, participate in what Judith/Jack Halberstam has described as “the queer art of failure”? Overall, the collection will allow us to examine the ways that texts of various types document the limits, failures, and possibilities of imagining queer domesticities.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
· Literary imaginings of queer domesticity
· Queer domesticity as imagined in the law (consider particular cases, such as Bowers v. Hardwick, Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. v. Windsor, and/or Obergefell v. Hodges)
· AIDS and queer domesticity
· Queer domesticity before the 20th century
· Queer domesticity in popular culture
· Anti-domesticity and queer culture
· Queer domestic spaces and architecture
· Queer domesticity and the closet
· Queer domesticity and ordinariness
· Queer domesticity and solitude
· Queer domestic utopias
· Queer domesticity and failure
· Queer domesticity and homonormativity
· Queer domesticity and non/reproductivity
· Domestic violence in queer culture
· Queer homelessness
· Queer domestic memoirs
· Queer domesticity and homes of origin
Complete essays of 20-25 pages are due by November 15, 2021. Please do not submit material that has been previously published. Contributors will be advised of whether their submission has been accepted by February 15, 2022. Please send inquiries and submissions to Mary Wilson (mwilson4_at_umassd.edu).
 United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia. Doe v. Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Richmond. Federal Supplement vol. 403, 1975. Fastcase, https://fc7-fastcase-com.libproxy.umassd.edu/ results?docUid=4776126. Accessed 14 April 2021.