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  • Introduction
  • Meridith Kruse and David A. Rubin

The etymology of the noun "dossier" can be traced to the French dossier, "bundle of papers," from the twelfth-century dos, meaning "back." Dos stems from the Vulgar Latin dossum, a variant of dorsum, an expletive for "back" or "backside." A dossier was originally so-called because the bundle bore a label on the back, or possibly from resemblance of the bulge in a mass of bundled papers to the curve of a back. Additionally, the Old French dossiere referred to the "back-strap" or "ridge strap" of a horse's harness. Both dorsum and dossiere are closely related to lordosis, "curvature of the spine," from modern Latin, from the Greek lordos, meaning "bent backwards," a word of uncertain origin, with possible cognates in Armenian, Celtic, and Germanic. In present-day English, lordosis is the scientific name for the posture assumed during sexual relations by the presumptively passive partner in some animal species. In domestic felines and canines, lordosis is also what just occurs when you scratch the critter's lower back. Reading Lynne Huffer's compelling response, "Recursive, Restorative, Respite," to this dossier on her book Are the Lips a Grave? (2013), we are also struck by the figural resonance between the arch of the back, "dos," and the curvature of fault lines or rifts of continents—faille.1

Within and across all of these instances, the word "dossier" contains within its genealogy an indicatively queer feminist tropology. This tropology upsets and calls into question established boundaries between subject and object, inside and outside, top and bottom, nature and culture, normal and pathological, and human and nonhuman by revealing the contingency, instability, and arbitrariness of these binaries. With its queer feminist timbres and resonances, the term [End Page 132] "dossier" is thus particularly apt as a description for this bundle of essays on the impact and implications of Huffer's Are the Lips a Grave?2

Huffer's innovative and powerful contribution to feminist and queer theory, gender, women's, and sexuality studies, and interdisciplinary research more broadly, has been evident for some time now.3 Moving across the boundaries of these domains, her scholarship provides a vital defense of queer feminism as a dynamic resource for confronting some of the most difficult ethical challenges and aporias at the heart of sexual morality today. Following Huffer, we define queer feminism as an expansive project that seeks to hold the critique of bio-political normalization and structural violence together with a vision of ethical remaking. Huffer's queer feminism draws on a unique range of inspirations and methodologies: feminist and queer theory, to be sure, but also poetry, fiction, film, close reading, genealogy, geology, continental philosophy, and especially the antifoundational ethical philosophies of Michel Foucault and Luce Irigaray. Using these tools, Huffer reconstructs the fault lines of the present that make the work of ethical reflection and transformation at once difficult and necessary. Moreover, Huffer's queer feminist ethics resituates politics as disagreement, rather than mutual annihilation (Ranciere 1999), an ethos that is all too rare and all the more urgently needed in our current era.

This ethos can be found explicitly in Lips? when Huffer stakes a "restorative claim to an ethical queer feminism and its transfiguration of ethics as erotic living" (2013, 21–22). As David A. Rubin argues in their contribution to this dossier, Lips? seeks to restore to queer feminism its ethical mobility: "its capacity to responsibly respond to others under difficult, fraught, and heavy conditions of constraint and complicity." Huffer contends that the antifoundational heritage of queer feminism provides underutilized but capacious resources for moving beyond the critique of Western rationalist sexual morality and toward what she calls ethopoiesis (2013, 43). In this imaginative transmogrification, as Huffer puts it, "eros emerges as a new name for an unreasonable, corporeal ethics of living in the biopolitical present" (12).

The contributors to this dossier trace the variety of ways in which Lips? invites generative and surprising opportunities to reconsider and refashion the repertoire and assumptions of queer feminist thought and practice. In different ways, the contributors suggest that at the heart of Huffer's critical praxis lies a dual gesture...


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