Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Same OldQueer Theory, Literature and the Politics of Sameness$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Ben Nichols

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132833

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526132840

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

Normative

Normative

Chapter:
(p.114) 3 Normative
Source:
Same Old
Author(s):

Ben Nichols

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526132840.00007

This chapter argues that 'lesbian middle-brow' writing from the early part of the twentieth century offers an important counterpoint to queer theory's long-standing opposition to normativity. Whereas early queer theoretical formulations opposed 'regimes of the normal' that specifically upheld heteronormativity, the sharpness of this critique has morphed into a more general position in which any kind of normativity or conformism is treated as intrinsically suspect. By contrast, novels with famous lesbian protagonists such as Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness (1928) and The Unlit Lamp (1924), along with Mary Renault's The Friendly Young Ladies (1944), show the manifold reasons why historical queers have been attached to the idea of the normal – for example, for the opportunity it offers of safety and protection from violence. Moreover, they show the importance of what might seem distinctly non-radical to contemporary readers – namely, middle-brow realism – in the history of lesbian representation and subjectivity. These middle-brow novels are the occasion to reflect on what keeps anti-normativity at the heart of queer theoretical strategy: the opportunity it provides of opposing a form of sameness framed as stultifying, conformist and assimilationist.

Keywords:   normativity, Radclyffe Hall, Mary Renault, lesbian middlebrow, middlebrow

Manchester Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.