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Reclaiming Queer, Reclaiming Queer, 0817318283, 0-8173-1828-3, 978-0-8173-1828-4, 9780817318284, , , Reclaiming Queer, 081738751X, 0-8173-8751-X, 978-0-8173-8751-8, 9780817387518,

Reclaiming Queer
Activist and Academic Rhetorics of Resistance
Erin J. Rand

Trade Cloth
2014. 224 pp.
4 illustrations
978-0-8173-1828-4
Price:  $44.95 s
E Book
2014. 224 pp.
4 illustrations
978-0-8173-8751-8
Price:  $44.95 d

Reclaiming Queer is an examination of the rhetorical linkage of queer theory in the academy with street-level queer activism in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The late 1980s and early 1990s were a defining historical moment for both queer activism and queer theory in the United States. LGBT communities, confronted with the alarming violence and homophobia of the AIDS crisis, often responded with angry, militant forms of activism designed not merely to promote acceptance or tolerance, but to forge identity and strength from victimization and assert loudly and forcefully their rights to safety and humanity. The activist reclamation of the word “queer” is one marker of this shift in ideology and practice, and it was mirrored in academic circles by the concurrent emergence of the new field of “queer theory.” That is, as queer activists were mobilizing in the streets, queer theorists were producing a similar foment in the halls and publications of academia, questioning regulatory categories of gender and sexuality, and attempting to illuminate the heteronormative foundations of Western thought. Notably, the narrative of queer theory’s development often describes it as arising from or being inspired by queer activism.

In Reclaiming Queer, Erin J. Rand examines both queer activist and academic practices during this period, taking as her primary object the rhetorical linkage of queer theory in the academy with street-level queer activism. Through this strategic conjuncture of activism and academia, Rand grapples with the specific conditions for and constraints on rhetorical agency in each context. She examines the early texts that inaugurated the field of queer theory, Queer Nation’s infamous “Queers Read This” manifesto, Larry Kramer’s polemic speeches and editorials, the Lesbian Avengers’ humorous and outrageous antics, the history of ACT UP, and the more recent appearance of Gay Shame activism. From these activist and academic discourses, Rand builds a theory of rhetorical agency that posits queerness as the very condition from which agency emerges.

Reclaiming Queer thus offers a critical look at the rhetoric of queer activism, engages the history of queer theory’s institutionalization and the politics of its proliferation, suggests a radically contextual understanding of rhetorical agency and form, and argues for the centrality of queerness to all rhetorical action.

Erin J. Rand is an assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies and affiliated with LGBT Studies at Syracuse University. Her work has appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, the Western Journal of Communication, and Women’s Studies in Communication.

"Reclaiming Queer makes a persuasive case for the importance of queer theory as a form of queer activism with a relationship to it. Rand's style is lucid and accessible, and I recommend this text to scholars of rhetoric, queer theorists and activists, feminist scholars, and to undergraduates in classes exploring queer theory, history, and community."
QED Book Review

“Rand has made an argument about the nature of rhetorical agency as ‘queer,’ one that will be of substantial interest to the rhetoricians in the traditions of communication and composition studies, and will add to the toolbox of concepts available for theorizing rhetorical agency. Her careful historical, textual and archival work makes her project one critical to the interests of scholars in gender and sexuality studies who have an eye for the effects of the emergence of queer theory on more traditional feminist, gender based, and gay and lesbian studies.”
—Christian O. Lundberg, author of Lacan in Public

Reclaiming Queer is a well-argued, fluidly composed text that makes a significant intervention into conversations concerning communication studies, queer theory, and questions of rhetorical agency. Rand offers an insightful look into the dialectical relationship between activist practices and academia, exploring instances where agency and resistance can be innovatively pursued. The case studies are especially provocative, offering insightful critical readings of Larry Kramer’s polemics, the productive antics of the Lesbian Avengers, and the affective possibilities of remembering ACT UP.”—Jeffrey A. Bennett, author of Banning Queer Blood: Rhetorics of Citizenship, Contagion, and Resistance

"Erin Rand’s Reclaiming Queer constitutes a compelling queering of Rhetorical Studies by theorizing the fundamental and inextricable queerness—economy, paradox, style, risk—of rhetorical agency itself. Rand’s deft engagements also provocatively and insightfully deepen our understanding of the rhetorical agency of Queer Theory’s institutionalization, and she sounds a renewed call for pursuing the promise of undecidability, which is to say a queer rhetorical future.”  —Charles E. Morris III, coeditor, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking

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