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Queer Kinship in World Literature

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Organizer: Anchit Sathi

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This seminar seeks to shine the spotlight on non-heteronormative forms of kinship in world literature. To this end, it will explore and interrogate such relationships to highlight the nuanced ways in which queer characters reject, resist—and sometimes also accept—heteronormative kinship models that are conditioned upon biological filiation alone. Said otherwise, this seminar will draw upon literature to demonstrate and exemplify how queer individuals “approach kinship as both a horizon and a source of violence and possibility” (Bradway and Freeman, 2022).

The mention of world literature in the seminar's title and in the paragraph above is not gratuitous. Indeed, this seminar does not seek to constrain itself to the literature of any particular time, place, language or genre. To list just a few (solely indicative and, by corollary, non-exhaustive) examples of topics that would have their place at this seminar:

  • an exploration of the non-heteronormative kinship relations that the queer author-narrator of Edouard Louis’ Changer : méthode (2021) forges with members of Paris’ urban intellectual communities;

  • a reading of Hermann Hesse’s Peter Camenzind (1904) that highlights how the fact that the male protagonist discovers his poetic talent after being taken with Boppi—a disabled male character—might be examined as a form of “queer/crip kinship” (von Seth, 2022);

  • a study of the “male pregnancy motif” (Heggestad, 2021) and the attendant implications of queer parental desire that can be read into Victor Frankenstein’s creation of an intelligent creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818);

  • an examination of Schneewittchen aka Snow White—the 19th-century fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm—from the perspective of understanding the implications of the homoeroticism in the dwarves’ dealings with each other for the form of kinship that they end up cultivating with Snow White;;

  • an investigation of Vyāsa’s Mahabharatha (c. 4th century B.C.E.) that explores the queer underpinnings of the polyandrous marriage that is central to this epic tale—to wit, the marriage of the five Pandava brothers (whose relationship with each other is pregnant with homoeros to begin with) to a single woman, Draupadi.

From a methodological perspective too, this seminar welcomes a diversity of perspectives: readings that deploy historical context or queer theory as a lens, for instance, or those that seek to offer comparative analyses (across time and / or geographies), or those that focus on matters of form—and, once more, this is just to mention a few illustrative (and non-exhaustive) examples of the broad array of methodologies that this seminar seeks to showcase.

Please apply to present a paper through the ACLA website by October 31, 2022. For any questions, please feel free to reach out to the seminar’s organizer via email ( 

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