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Much of the most influential work on Joyce over the last decade has been devoted to the study of gender representation, performance, privilege, and anxiety. Among other results, this work has made the heterosexual imperative visible as an arbitrary ideological limit. Now, in Quare Joyce, some of the most prominent scholars of Joyce address themselves directly to questions of homoerotic desire in Joyce's work, drawing on and furthering queer theory in a dazzling set of essays.
Beyond simply locating another layer of cultural import in Joyce's endlessly rich oeuvre, this project reconstructs a whole other creative and critical history for his writing. The twelve essays, organized in pairs under the headings "Intersexualities," "Rethinking the Closet," "Homophobia and Misogyny," "Homocolonial Relations," "Joyce's Lesbian Other," and "Recent Controversies," explore the range of Joyce's work, from "An Encounter" through Finnegans Wake, and take on three related tasks: to redress the compulsory heterosexuality that has traditionally hampered even the most sophisticated and progressive scholarship on Joyce; to import a queer theory perspective; and to take up the manifold question of homosexuality as it pertains to the always slippery articulation of Joyce's life and work.
Quare Joyce will directly interest not only Joyceans, modernists, and students of Irish literature, but also scholars in the fields of postcolonial and queer theory, gay and cultural studies. As the only book on its subject, it will be necessary reading for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students and will prove useful in the classroom.
Joseph Valente is Associate Professor of English and Interpretive Theory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.