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Forum RETURN TO QUEER IBERIA Guest Editors Sidney Donnell and Gregory S. Hutcheson BACK TO THE FUTURE OF MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN IBERIAN STUDIES Sidney Donnell Lafayette College Resistance or repetition? This is the deceptively simple theoretical question that has concerned many scholars in the humanities and social sciences for several decades, and that constitutes the primary concern ofparticipants in this Forum on queer approaches to the study of medieval and early modern Iberia. Do queer readings contest hegemonic understandings of the history and literature of Iberia? Or do they perpetuate outdated paradigms that venerate Spain's and Portugal's respective imperial pasts? What are the promises and perils of queer epistemologies? These questions were addressed at "Return to Queer Iberia", a recent symposium organized by Michael Solomon and sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania (October 19-20, 200 1).1 Many of its participants had contributed chapters to the groundbreaking collection Queer Iberia: Sexualities, Cultures , and Crossingsfrom the MiddleAges to the Renaissance, edited byJosiah Blackmore and Gregory S. Hutcheson (1999). This volume makes a major contribution to Iberian historical and literary studies, and is one ofa handful ofworks that has brought theoretical sophistication to studies of sexuality within the field. The Forum presented here moves beyond the already exemplary contribution of Queer Iberia. Like the volume, it explores exciting new directions in medieval and early modern Iberian studies.2 1 In addition to Solomon's planning, much of "Return to Queer Iberia'"s success can be attributed to the active participation ol graduate students oí Romance Languages in follow-up discussion and to important interventions by the majority of the Department 's faculty members in Spanish: CarlosJ. Alonso, Marina Brownlee, Toni Espósito, José Regueiro and Jorge Salessi. 2 As Solomon said in his opening remarks at the Symposium, "although there is much to praise in the production and reception ofthis work [Queer Iberia], we come here La corónica 30.1 (Fall, 2001): 217-22 218ForumLa corónica 30.1, 200 1 A unifying theme among the historians and literary critics whose work is collected here is the exploration of difference. This theoretically charged term is used by many of the contributors to advance a richer understanding of what some would call "multicultural Iberia". It is clear from the nature and scope ofthe presentations that the search for evidence about social norms and alternative sexual practices now requires extensive discussion of not just sexuality alone, but its relation to "race", class, ethnicity and gender as they are mutually constituted in the history and literature of the Iberian peninsula. It is also evident from the Forum that the battle to take sexuality seriously in Iberian studies has moved quickly beyond narrowly construed identity politics or the mere refutation of conservative disavowals of the interpretive significance of same-sex desire. Competing visions of difference and inequality have propelled the field forward in new and exciting directions in an astonishingly short period of time. What does it mean to queer Iberian studies? We find a number of answers to this question in the work of Forum contributors because the term "queer" does not in this case indicate a single, theoretically unified project. Indeed, the polyvocality of the term has opened up multiple interpretive possibilities, several of which are represented here. Many contributors would agree with Gregory Hutcheson's claim that the term "queer" cannot be translated to a single word in the Romance languages when it is used to reference the ways sex and sexuality destabilize the binary logic of a predominant culture. In this orthodox sense, "queer" is a term that signals the subversion of hegemonic cultural logic. It therefore underscores the power ofany form of desire to disrupt what many refer to as "normalization". Others, such as Daniel Eisenberg, use "queer" to mean "lesbian" and "gay". For these scholars , queer is a term for naming the identities of medieval subjects and their sexual practices and desires. The essays in this Forum represent the spectrum of identitarian and post-identitarian approaches in sexuality studies. Taken together, the reflections collected here implicitly ask the provocative question of whether theories of lesbian and gay identities in...


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