I am seeking submissions for a prospective special peer-reviewed cluster on theModernism/Modernity print-plus platform exploring the question: “What is Sexual Modernity?” Does modernity have a sexuality? We might follow Rita Felski’s lead in The Gender of Modernity (1995) to ask what is at stake in, or what changes occur when we define the sexuality of modernity as queer, sapphic, heteronormative, perverse, or otherwise? How might these nominations intersect with or alter formations of the color of modernity, colonial modernity, atavistic modernity, or the gender of modernity?
Recent work has taken a different tact, boldly ascribing a particular sexual content to modernity. In The Sexuality of History (2014), for example, Susan S. Lanser “invert[s] the conventional wisdom that modernity consolidates a heteronormative order to argue that modernity can also be read as the emergence of the sapphic as an epistemic possibility.” Lanser understands the sapphic as a particularly charged site for theorizing the modern — its power relations, styles of governances, literary forms, and much else. Her work helps us to query whether the sexuality of modernity changes over time and as it travels across space. Her claim for a queer and specifically sapphic modernity cuts against claims like Afsaneh Najmabadi’s assertion that: “In the nineteenth century, homoeroticism and same-sex practice came to mark Iran as backward; heteronormalization of eros and sex became a precondition for ‘achieving modernity.’” This cluster asks if it is possible to reconcile these competing contentions. Are they part of what Fredric Jameson calls a singular modernity or do they instead form multiple and overlapping modernities? In what relation does this modernity or set of modernities stand to modernism in its plurality? Can helping define the sexuality of modernity enable us to have a clearer sense of terms (and the sexual personhoods which attach to such nominations) like queer modernism, sapphic modernism, and modernist sexuality?
Please submit abstracts of 500 words on these questions and questions of adjacent interest to Benjamin Kahan (firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 30th, 2015. These abstracts will be reviewed in anticipation of the submission of polemical 3000 word short essays due by December 15th, 2015.