AIDS and the National Body

Book Pages: 208 Illustrations: Published: July 1997

Subjects
American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Thomas Yingling was a rising star in American studies, a leading figure in gay and lesbian studies, and a prominent theorist of AIDS and cultural politics when he died in 1992. AIDS and the National Body is a brilliant excursion into the mind and heart of Yingling, author of the critically acclaimed book, Hart Crane and the Homosexual Text. Robyn Wiegman, a friend and colleague of Yingling’s, has collected in this book a selection of his critical and creative work. These previously published and unpublished essays, nonacademic prose, poetry, and letters are a powerful testimonial to the intellectual legacy left by Yingling.
Contemplating the contradictions of individual identity from within a human body adapting to and living within a collective national culture, Yingling delves into such issues as canon formation, poetic theory, and the rhetoric of the body in American popular culture. In addition to Wiegman’s illuminating introduction, the conversation is joined by four other scholars—Michael Awkward, Robert L. Caserio, Stephen Melville, and David Román—whose critical and personal responses to Yingling’s writing weigh in throughout the volume. What emerges is a collection that embodies the particular difficulties of living with AIDS, of outliving someone who has died of AIDS, and of losing prematurely an important thinker.

Praise

“Yingling was a leading figure in gay and lesbian studies, and a prominent theoriest of AIDS and cultural politics. He delved into such issues as canon formation, poetic theory, and the rhetoric of the body in American popular culture. This is a serious book to read and one that will be difficult for some. It is, however, an extremely important book for all researchers to read in order to understand Yingling’s innermost thoughts.” — AIDS Book Review Journal

“Shortly before his death, Yingling had emerged as one of the central theorists of AIDS cultural politics. The loss of his ongoing public contribution is quite evident in these writings. But the publication of his personal writings allows us also to accept this loss as a personal one, and to reflect with him on the changing priorities he experiences as he realizes he is being overwhelmed by the very object of his critical reflection. The essays by his friends and colleagues provide a model for sustaining—by critically engaging—perspectives that we are losing to early deaths. This is how we will survive—mourn and organize and critically reflect on the political and cultural disaster of the AIDS epidemic, even as it continues to take away, among the many fallen comrades, some of the best thinkers of our time.” — Cindy Patton, Emory University

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Thomas E. Yingling was Associate Professor of English at Syracuse University until his death from AIDS-related causes in 1992. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Hart Crane and the Homosexual Text.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1973-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1977-1
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