Wednesday, April 15, 2009
eve kosofsky sedgwick 1950-2009
i read her book, "epistemology of the closet" in the early '90s. along w/kaja silverman's "male subjectivity on the margins," it opened my eyes to a new kind of academia, a fundamental incorporation of foucault's study of sexuality into all kinds of areas of study. that it was heavily weighted on the side of the homo as opposed to the dominant hetero side just added to the attraction.
while "queer studies" continues to provoke/endure a warped resonance within the academic community, this insistent introduction marked, at the time, a significant moment in academic studies. if nothing else, aubrey beardsley's intricate "encoding" of his pictures suddenly appeared obvious & the famous jamesian character conflicts were resolved. it also rescued writers of questionable literary merit from the waste bins of history. i can certainly claim that her work gave one of my ex's her "door #3" into academic glory(or, at least, semi-regular employment). well, that & the fact that she(my ex) was gay all along.
i can't say i followed ms sedgwick's career after i left uva. i would pick up whatever new book i saw by her in berkeley bookstores but they just didn't interest me anymore. it seemed like her work initially opened a HUGE area of study that ended up being limited & parochial, a kind of lit-crit cul-de-sac. ten years later, it seems clear to me that these kinds of academic dead ends may well explain the end of literature as we're experiencing it in the new millenium. that & the fact that milton scholars have abandoned their fields of expertise & are teaching(w/o credentials other than their "avid interest")courses on film.
ms sedgwick had no idea where things were going way back when. she made a major contribution to literary studies, which is more than most can say. she doesn't have to see where it'll all end up.
nyt obit is just ok.