Queer Theory

Authored by: Wendy Gay Pearson

The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction

Print publication date:  January  2009
Online publication date:  March  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415453783
eBook ISBN: 9780203871317
Adobe ISBN: 9781135228361


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Canadian journalist Robert Fulford recently published an attack on queer theory, which he defines as “an academic discipline that prides itself on finding gay subtexts in apparently heterosexual stories” (Fulford 2007: A22). A worse definition of queer theory would be hard to find, but Fulford’s fulminations are rendered entirely, if unintentionally, humorous when he notes that his target, a postdoctoral fellow, Jes Battis, “writes about everything from hidden gay themes in TV to comedies like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” His objections to queer Buffy studies are remarkable, however, given that the series does indeed include queer characters, making the search for subtext moot. In season four, Willow came out as a lesbian and mere months after Fulford’s article the protagonist herself became involved in a same-sex affair with another female vampire slayer in issue 12 of the comic book that continues where the television show ended (Gustines 2008). This would seem to make both Buffy and Buffy pretty queer. Perhaps the only other onscreen female sf character to have excited such intense academic interest is Ripley from the Alien films (1979–97), who seems almost created to provoke queer readings that are not at all about homoerotic subtext. Indeed, queer theory’s prime interest is in the workings of the normative, that is, of the ways in which discourses about what is and is not “normal” function to discipline human bodies and behaviors.

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