Nicholas de Villiers
Opacity and the Closet
Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol
University of Minnesota Press 2012
In his book, Opacity and the Closet: Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), Nicholas de Villiers takes up an examination of the work of the three titular authors as a way of understanding their queerness and more specifically, how each man subverted the “in-and-out of the closet” paradigm. De Villiers devotes ample time to each man, however I found his thoughts on Foucault and Barthes of particular importance as both have come to be so deeply associated with postmodernism, poststructuralism, and queer theory. It is safe to say that Foucault is in large part responsible for the theoretical and philosophical foundations of what we know of today as queer theory and queer studies. This fact makes Foucault’s own relationship with his “out” sexuality all the more fascinating and de Villiers does a great service to Foucault, showing that Foucault himself subverted the “in-and-out of the closet” paradigm and society’s need to ferret out and make known our sexualities. While many scholars, academics, and cultural critics have criticized Foucault for his “silence,” de Villiers’s work suggests that Foucault’s life was a practice in complicating and disrupting the immense societal desire to see homosexuality expressed in one sanctioned way. De Villiers work here is deep, insightful, and refreshing in its attempt to offer an alternative to “suspicious reading.” I do hope you enjoy our conversation.
Photo Credit: Lauren M. Jones