Reading Sedgwick is a book about conceptual openings and lyrical critical knowledge about sexuality and aesthetics. Its various essays are posited against the conventional thinking of some academic culture and other scenes of gendered, sexual, and racial privilege: but also the aesthetic richness of the writing and the objects of the writing take Sedgwick’s work to places and questions it still pries open. The volume went through many phases of lifeworld difficulty. The first editor convened so many great thinkers: but became depleted, then departed. Then, the remaining group of writers were stymied by the impact of Eve Sedgwick’s physical death, revisiting and revising. Finally, it was delivered to me as an editor of Theory Q, and during production I entered medically and politically difficult times. Courtney Berger at Duke University Press and Robyn Taylor-Nu, Carmen Merport Quinones, and Jennifer Mondal went beyond the ordinary to help read and shape the work in its final instantiation. So it is not just that the anthology contains brilliant (I mean it!) original, passionate, and generative work by Judith Butler, Robyn Wiegman, Michael Moon, Ramzi Fawaz, and many others, but that one dictum of queer theory, that we are all conceived in relation more than by dictation, was materially demonstrated by this volume.
How can we use the tools of queer theory—from antinormativity to cultivated practices of care and becoming—in the contemporary moment of nationalist fascism, white heterosupremacy, and reactivated culture war-style homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny? How can we deal with normative disgust at our still creative and rich imaginations for a generous collective life? What is the body? Why does aesthetic experience expand the potential of the world? One way we know that Eve was inspiring is that the writing in this book is rigorous, passionate, beautiful, and quite various. From the two distinctly conceptualizing introductions to the volume, to the different critical voices storytelling and testifying to the ongoing power of Eve’s work, teaching, aesthetics, critical practice, and living in the world go on quite a ride in this anthology. I’m proud to be its editor.
-- Lauren Berlant, editor of Reading Segdwick