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Abstract for Home as a Verb

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Apr. 15th, 2006 | 09:05 pm
posted by: wildflowerfever in representingid

The lesbian community exists without geographic specificity. As a result, it depends largely upon discourse to create its "reality." During feminism's "second wave," we saw an attempt to articulate the boundaries of lesbian existence, especially in poetry. Tracing a lineage through this poetry--from the canonical texts of "second wave" lesbian-feminism to contemporary "lesbian" and "queer" women's poetry--we explore representations of an emerging lesbian/queer community, as well as the ways that the work itself has contributed to the emergence of such a community.

While many lesbian-feminist poets of the "second wave" were dedicated to what Olga Broumas refers to as "a politics of transliteration"--using poetry to translate the "reality" of lesbian existence--queer theory suggests that there is no such reality. 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 essay engages texts that explore the tension between these two desires: on one hand, to affirm community identity and on the other, to destabilize such identity categories. Engaging this tension, we ask how lesbian-feminist poetry--in conversation with discourse about identity categories--might serve as a continuously rebuilt home for those who take up the label "lesbian," as well as the benefits and limitations of seeking residence in the label itself.

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