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Abstract for our Symposium Presentation

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Mar. 15th, 2006 | 05:41 pm
posted by: wildflowerfever in representingid

During feminism's "second wave," many lesbian-feminist poets were dedicated to what Olga Broumas refers to as "a politics of transliteration"-- using poetry to illustrate the reality of lesbian existence in order to render it visible and thus create a political platform from which to speak. However, the notion that lesbian life contains something translatable implies an essential truth to "lesbian." As queer theory elucidates, this is hardly the case. Instead, the label lesbian is continually re-interpreted by dominant social paradigms, and thus leaves those who take up the label vulnerable to regulatory norms.

Our presentation engages texts that explore the tension between these two desires: on one hand, to affirm community identity and on the other, to seek liberation through the destabilization and elimination of such identity categories. We wish to trouble this distinction in our exploration of identity politics and lesbian identity itself, through tracing their developent from lesbian feminist poetry from the 1970's to contemporary lesbian and queer poetry. We will also interrogate the notion of the 'lesbian cannon' itself: when the lesbian "I" is so contentious, is it still possible to bind lesbian texts together under that signifier? How do we engage identity-based texts in the era of queer theory?

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