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ELSPETH PROBYN The Outside of Queer Cultural Studiesl Summer in Montreal, hot and very humid. And as with every year, it seems that the heated pavement brings forth a neW Montreal subject, a different social and civic subject wrought of the peculiarities of climate and sensibility. Indeed, it is a local cliche that for a brief moment of time Montrealers and Montrealais alike put off their penchant for politics large and small, cast off with the salt-stained boots and tired winter coats. Instead of political platforms we have bandstands, festivals compete and overlap into a weave of carnival, a moving warp of bodies against bodies: the International Festival of Fireworks, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Divers-cite (our gay pride march), Ie festival du homard, Ie festival de la biere en flH, Ie Tour de l'ile, Portuguese and Italian saints' days, the Construction Workers' holiday, les fetes du trottoir - all transform the streets into chaotic bursting capillaries of people celebrating something or other, or merely living fully in the forgetfulness that winter ever existed. Under banners that instruct 'Montreal sourit aux touristes,' fair-weather subjects proliferate. If summer exuberance is common in places where long and hard, Montreal may be uncommon for the ways in .which its citizens are placed within a government-funded web of fun, the exhortations resembling school-teacherly dictates to get out there and play. Then just as we all seem to have concocted a new manner of being, the weather changes, turns really heavy, and electrical storms short-circuit. Catatonia melds people together in an unruly way, alternating between frenzy and lethargy..Tranced-out, supposedly inner thoughts break out on the skin in prickly intellectual rashes, Inevitably the compartments of writing, political organizing, and socializing break down, and comportments get increasingly cataleptic. At a party, I rub shoulders with presUlned comrades-in-arms; talk turns around issues of the renewed gay and lesbian presence iIi. civic and provincial affairs. Abruptly, it seeIns, one of my companions is in full parti-pris, pequiste grandstanding. The object of his rage is queer political correctness which he takes to be typically anglophone, propagated by what he terms as 'des Rhodesiens.' In response, I rally to the defence of queer theory, attacking his conception of lIes etudes gaies et lesbiennes' as impossibly parochial. Even on a summer night politics has not disappeared; it has merely taken another route by which to emerge. UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 64, NUMBER 4, FAll ]995 QUEER CULTURAL STUDIES 537 All in all, not a pretty performance but, in the local tenns of gay, lesbian, and queer politics, not an unusual one. In turn, our little exchange fits all too easily within the larger theoretical cliInate. For in the world of sexual polities, it seems that 'queer' has become the latest lightning rod, attracting straights, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals alike in a COl111TIon clucking over the loss of politics that the very tenn is taken as inaugurating. As a blatant example of this turn, Donald Morton categorizes 'Queer Theory ... [as] privilegUng] politically unreproductive W1derstandings of such categories as "desire," "discourse," and the "material'" (123). While this type of argument lnay be drearily familiar - as queer theory is 'dissed' for its lack of politics, for its occulting of the social, its insistence on the local, and its privileging of discourse - it also obscures the exigency to rethink and to reformulate the point and direction of academic political interventions (the stakes, the modes) within the actual social terrain of sexuality. In entering into the fray, I want to be clear about the point of my own intervention. For I am less interested in carrying on frontal attacks on either the proponents of queer theory or those in opposition to it than in articulating a slightly different project. I want to move sideways, to be caught up in the lateral1novelnent of disciplines, to construct an object of study both included within the larger framework of cultural studies yet having a certain autonomy in the construction of its objects and its mode of intervention. Qileer Cultural Studies: at once a totally idiosyncratic proposal; at once a mode of theorizing dependent on...


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