Searching for “Sodality”: Abjection and Queerness in Naylor and Kenan

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Megan Anne McSwain (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
David Orvis

Abstract: While other scholars, most notably Trudier Harris, have explored the similarities and differences between Gloria Naylor’s and Randall Kenan’s texts, few have considered the transformative queerness these two authors construct in their narratives. This thesis explores the intimate connection between queerness and the abject, using Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection. This queerness, explored in Naylor’s queer community of The Women of Brewster Place and Kenan’s queer space of Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, emerges during moments of abjection, and its recognition is the production and destruction of subjectivities, communities, and ideologies. Consequently, the queerness that defines the characters and places in the two works deconstructs both oppressive binaries and heternormative ideology and recognizes sameness, as defined by Stephen Guy-Bray. Ultimately, the exploration of abjection and queerness in both Naylor’s and Kenan’s texts is a search for unity that transcends differences and binaries and a yearning for “queer sodality,” a possibility proposed by Christopher Nealon that challenges the alienation of queerness.

Additional Information

McSwain, M.A. (2011). Searching for “Sodality”: Abjection and Queerness in Naylor and Kenan. Unpublished master's thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2011
abject, queer, subjectivity, community, sameness

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