The French Response
Stanford University Press 2016
New Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 2, 2017 Roxanne Panchasi
At once wonderfully clear and bursting with complexity, the title of Bruno Perreau‘s book, Queer Theory: The French Response (Stanford University Press, 2016) is one of my favorites of the past several years. An interrogation of the meanings of queer, theory, French, and response, the book is anchored around the anti-gay marriage demonstrations and activisms that proliferated in France during the lead-up to the passage of the 2013 Loi Taubira (a.k.a. “marriage pour tous”). The book focuses on a central claim of French opponents of gay marriage and adoption: the notion that (American) gender and queer theory is responsible for spreading homosexuality in France, and has thus contributed to the undoing of the French family and the nation as a whole.
Throughout its four chapters, the book considers the French response to queer theory in terms of fantasy and echo. This is not a book about reception in a passive or uncomplicated sense. Rather it is the study of a set of reverberations back and forth across the Atlantic that is always already a matter of translation and interpretation. Indeed, the so-called American theory that anti-gay activists have presented as a foreign menace finds much of its own inspiration in the work of French thinkers and writers. Drawing in part on a series of interviews with French feminist and queer intellectuals and activists, the book also offers critical insight regarding the meanings and anxieties surrounding minority identities and communities in contemporary France. Queer Theory will be compelling reading to anyone interested in the history and politics of sexuality, and in the possibilities of thinking and enacting change into the future, in France, in the U.S., and beyond.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. A historian of French culture and politics in the twentieth century, her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France and its empire since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send an email to: [email protected].
*The music that opens and closes the podcast is an instrumental version of Creatures, a song written by Vancouver artist/musician Casey Wei (performing as hazy). To hear more, please visit https://agonyklub.com/.