Title, Author & Summary



April 9, 2015

Comparatively Lesbian: Queer/Feminist Theory and the Sexuality of History

Susan S. Lanser

Reversing the conventional paradigm, I ask not only what history can tell us about sexuality, but what sexuality can tell us about history. My research relies for its core claims and findings on a comparative approach that has led me to queerer versions of spatiality and periodicity than those I inherited. It has also led me to privilege confluence over the more traditionally comparative project of influence, to engage in “large reading,” and to see the sign “lesbian” as itself a site for comparison. In claiming for female homoeroticism a central place in sexuality studies as an unmarked case, I argue that modernity itself can be read as the emergence of the sapphic—or what I call the logic of woman + woman—as an epistemic possibility.

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February 11, 2015

Comparative Literature and Animal Studies

Mario Ortiz-Robles

The comparative study of literature is intertwined at its origins with the comparative study of animals by virtue of the methodology used to compare members of otherwise very different sets of objects. Whether the method begets the object of study or the object of study the method is not entirely clear since the use of comparison in comparative literature is based on an analogy between literary forms (meters, figures, plots, genres) and biological forms (vertebrae, organs, species, genera) that seems to suspend their differences in “nature.” To compare animals to texts could well advance the cause of literary studies by giving a new purchase on what comparison might signify for students of literature around the world without making its practice archaic, vestigial, or, worse, extinct. We may yet learn something about the nature of the discipline of comparative literature by attending to its constitutive figuration as the literarization (the making literary) of animal comparison. Without a reconsideration of its literariness comparative literature could go the way of comparative zoology: a museum housing the fossilized remains of a discipline.

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