No Future

Queer Theory and the Death Drive

No Future
Book Pages: 208 Illustrations: 61 illus. Published: December 2004

Author: Lee Edelman

Subjects
Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory, Media Studies > Film, Theory and Philosophy > Psychoanalytic Theory

In this searing polemic, Lee Edelman outlines a radically uncompromising new ethics of queer theory. His main target is the all-pervasive figure of the child, which he reads as the linchpin of our universal politics of “reproductive futurism.” Edelman argues that the child, understood as innocence in need of protection, represents the possibility of the future against which the queer is positioned as the embodiment of a relentlessly narcissistic, antisocial, and future-negating drive. He boldly insists that the efficacy of queerness lies in its very willingness to embrace this refusal of the social and political order. In No Future, Edelman urges queers to abandon the stance of accommodation and accede to their status as figures for the force of a negativity that he links with irony, jouissance, and, ultimately, the death drive itself.

Closely engaging with literary texts, Edelman makes a compelling case for imagining Scrooge without Tiny Tim and Silas Marner without little Eppie. Looking to Alfred Hitchcock’s films, he embraces two of the director’s most notorious creations: the sadistic Leonard of North by Northwest, who steps on the hand that holds the couple precariously above the abyss, and the terrifying title figures of The Birds, with their predilection for children. Edelman enlarges the reach of contemporary psychoanalytic theory as he brings it to bear not only on works of literature and film but also on such current political flashpoints as gay marriage and gay parenting. Throwing down the theoretical gauntlet, No Future reimagines queerness with a passion certain to spark an equally impassioned debate among its readers.

Praise

“Edelman has certainly articulated a new direction for queer theory, making No Future required reading both within the field and beyond.” — Andrea Fontenot , Modern Fiction Studies

“The book represents a rigorous attempt to think at once generatively and against tropes of generation, to work at once in irony and in earnest to demonstrate the political’s material dependence on Symbolic homo-logy.” — Carolyn Denver , Victorian Studies

“The book represents a rigorous attempt to think at once generatively and against tropes of generation, to work at once in irony and in earnest to demonstrate the political’s material dependence on Symbolic homo-logy.”Whether we decide to follow Edelman’s example of rejecting the future or vehemently react against his polemic, No Future leaves no doubt that we cannot get around thinking critically about the uses and abuses of futurity.“The book represents a rigorous attempt to think at once generatively and against tropes of generation, to work at once in irony and in earnest to demonstrate the political’s material dependence on Symbolic homo-logy.” — Jana Funke , thirdspace

"One of the great virtues of Edelman's thesis is that it restores the distinction between queerness and homosexuality per se. Edelman goes some way to returning the uncanniness attached to queerness which has been dispelled by the very signifier 'gay' and the cosy, Kylie-loving, unthreatening cheeriness with which it has become associated." — K-Punk

"This is a book, I confess, that I would love to have written. Angry, eloquent, precise, beautifully composed, funny, over the top, and very smart, the four chapters . . . articulate a controversial and disturbingly persuasive figural and rhetorical diagnostic of a moment in U.S. political life." — Carla Freccero , GLQ

No Future is a nuanced polemic, both ringingly clear in its aesthetic and theoretical explications and simply thrilling to read. I learn so much from the way Lee Edelman grounds a queer ethics and politics outside kinship and reproductive circuits, those spaces of assimilation that use the bribe of futurity to distract us from the ongoing work of social violence and death.” — Lauren Berlant, author of The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship


“In consistently brilliant theoretical discussions (for the most part, psychoanalytically inspired), as well as in strikingly original readings of Dickens, George Eliot, and Hitchcock, Lee Edelman argues that in a political culture dominated by the sentimental illusions and frequently murderous moral imperatives of ‘reproductive futurism,’ homosexuality has been assigned—and should deliberately and defiantly take on—the burden of a negativity at once embedded within and violently disavowed by that culture. The paradoxical dignity of queerness would be its refusal to believe in a redemptive future, its embrace of the unintelligibility, even the inhumanity inherent in sexuality. Edelman’s extraordinary text is so powerful that we could perhaps reproach him only for not spelling out the mode in which we might survive our necessary assent to his argument.” — Leo Bersani, author of The Culture of Redemption, Homos, and, with Ulysse Dutoit, Caravaggio’s Secrets


“No Future is a highly imaginative, terrifically suggestive, and altogether powerful book. The question at its political heart is an arresting one, not least because it appears so counterintuitive: Must every political vision be a vision of the future? This is the first study I know that submits the rhetoric of futurity itself to close scrutiny. An intellectually thrilling book.” — Diana Fuss, author of The Sense of an Interior: Four Writers and the Rooms that Shaped Them


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Price: $24.95
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lee Edelman is Professor of English at Tufts University. He is the author of Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory and Transmemberment of Song: Hart Crane's Anatomies of Rhetoric and Desire.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

1. The Future Is Kid Stuff 1

2. Sinthomosexuality 33

3. Compassion’s Compulsion 67

4. No Future 111

Notes 155

Index 183
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper: 978-0-8223-3369-2 / Cloth: 978-0-8223-3359-3
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