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Mar. 16th, 2006 | 06:31 pm
posted by: wildflowerfever in representingid

Queering the Lesbian Canon: (Re)presenting Identity and Community in Lesbian Poetry

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 of such identity categories. We wish to trouble this distinction in our exploration of lesbian identity and identity politics, through tracing their development from “second wave” lesbian feminist poetry to contemporary lesbian and queer poetry. We will also interrogate the notion of the 'lesbian canon' 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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