Inconsequence: Lesbian Representation and the Logic of Sexual Sequence

Overview

The field of lesbian studies is often framed in terms of the relation between lesbianism and invisibility. Annamarie Jagose here takes a radical new approach, suggesting that the focus on invisibility and visibility is perhaps not the most productive way of looking at lesbian representability. Jagose argues that the theoretical preoccupation with metaphors of visibility is part of the problem it attempts to remedy. In her account, the regulatory difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality relies less on ...
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Overview

The field of lesbian studies is often framed in terms of the relation between lesbianism and invisibility. Annamarie Jagose here takes a radical new approach, suggesting that the focus on invisibility and visibility is perhaps not the most productive way of looking at lesbian representability. Jagose argues that the theoretical preoccupation with metaphors of visibility is part of the problem it attempts to remedy. In her account, the regulatory difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality relies less on codes of visual recognition than on a cultural adherence to the force of first order, second order sexual sequence. As Jagose points out, sequence does not simply specify what comes before and what comes after; it also implies precedence: what comes first and what comes second.Jagose reads canonical novels by Charles Dickens, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and Daphne du Maurier, drawing upon their elaboration of sexual sequence. In these innovative readings, tropes such as first and second, origin and outcome, and heterosexuality and homosexuality are shown to reinforce heterosexual precedence. Inconsequence intervenes in current debates in lesbian historiography, taking as its pivotal moment the fin-de-siècle phenomenon of the sexological codification of sexual taxonomies and concluding with a reading of a post-Kinsey pulp sexological text. Throughout, Jagose reminds us that categories of sexual registration are always back-formations, secondary, and belated, not only for those who identify as lesbian but also for all sexual subjects.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jagose draws on Foucault and Barthes to comment on the diffusion of sexual knowledge through the scientific/pornographic with the imperative to represent as uncoded that which is accessible through the photographic lens. By stripping the effects of sequence back to its licensing mechanics, Inconsequence reveals how lesbianism comes to figure as the derivation by which all sexuality is generated. . . . Jagose's incisive deconstruction, and exquisitely detailed footnotes, are invaluable to learn from—to witness how she does what she does—and make Inconsequence an important tool for any contemporary theorist."—Peta Mayer, Gender Forum, 2004

"Inconsequence addresses the relation of lesbian sexuality to sequential logic through subtle, persuasive, and surprising readings of both canonical and noncanonical texts. Jagose dares to question the grounding assumptions of both heteronormative discourse and lesbian theory, and in the process advances our understanding of both"—Valerie Rohy, author of Impossible Women

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801487989
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2002
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 First Things First: Some Second Thoughts on Lesbianism 1
2 Remembering Miss Wade: Little Dorrit and the Historicizing of Female Perversity 37
3 Unmarriageable: The Housing of Sexual Cultures in The Bostonians 57
4 Remembering and Forgetting: The Memorialization of Homosexuality in Mrs. Dalloway 77
5 First Wife, Second Wife: Sexual Perversion and the Problem of Precedence in Rebecca 101
6 Wild Life Photography: Pulp Sexology and the Camera 122
Notes 147
Bibliography 191
Index 205
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