Wild Things

The Disorder of Desire

Wild Things

Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe

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Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 7 illustrations Published: October 2020

Author: Jack Halberstam

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory, Theory and Philosophy

In Wild Things Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which wildness has been associated with queerness and queer bodies throughout the twentieth century. Halberstam theorizes the wild as an unbounded and unpredictable space that offers sources of opposition to modernity's orderly impulses. Wildness illuminates the normative taxonomies of sexuality against which radical queer practice and politics operate. Throughout, Halberstam engages with a wide variety of texts, practices, and cultural imaginaries—from zombies, falconry, and M. NourbeSe Philip's Zong! to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and the career of Irish anticolonial revolutionary Roger Casement—to demonstrate how wildness provides the means to know and to be in ways that transgress Euro-American notions of the modern liberal subject. With Wild Things, Halberstam opens new possibilities for queer theory and for wild thinking more broadly.


“Where can the wild take you? With Jack Halberstam as guide, to places fabulous, cruel, soaring, undead, hilarious, dark, seductive, promising, nonprovidential. Wild Things is a brilliant phenomenology of the (more than) human condition of bewilderment. Its critique of invocations of wildness tethered to colonial, racist fantasies also marks how the figure can contribute to forms of desire bent toward the feral, the incipient, the otherwise. Wild Things is an awesome trip.” — Jane Bennett, author of Influx and Efflux: Writing Up with Walt Whitman

“How does one learn about wildness? Coming from a longtime scholar of sexuality, the animal, desire, and anarchy, Jack Halberstam's Wild Things fosters a generous archive, favoring bewilderment over a ritual turn back to order and knowing. Following this book constitutes a kind of epistemological travel and culminates in a habit of sensation, a disorderly campaign, and a queer method that will stay with you.” — Mel Y. Chen, author of Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect

"[A] creative, discipline-smashing study exploring the human attraction to 'the wild.' . . . Halberstam’s approach is equal parts academic and poetic, making for a dense and, at times, beautiful text. This is a work that demands attention, which it rewards with both insight and entertainment." — Publishers Weekly


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jack Halberstam is Professor of English and Gender Studies at Columbia University and the author of several books, including The Queer Art of Failure and Female Masculinity, both also published by Duke University Press, and Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Part I. Sex in the Wild
Introduction. Sex before, after, and against Nature
1. Wildness, Loss, and Death
2. "A New Kind of Wildness": The Rite of Spring and and Indigenous Aesthetics of Bewilderment
3. The Epistemology of the Ferox: Sex, Death, and Falconry
Part II. Animality
Introduction. Into the Wild
4. Where the Wild Things Are: Humans, Animals, and Children
5. Zombie Antihumanism at the End of the World
Conclusions. The Ninth Wave
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