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Queer Theory: An Introduction

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The essential history of queer theory

The reclamation of the term queer over the last several decades marked a shift in the study of sexuality from a focus on supposedly essential categories such as gay and lesbian, to more fluid notions of sexual identity. On the cutting-edge of this significant shift was Annamarie Jagose's classic text Queer Theory: An Introduction. In th
Paperback, 153 pages
Published February 20th 1997 by New York University Press (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  535 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book probes the meaning of the work queer and how it came about. Queer theory is the exploration of the dilemmas and controversies wherein gender and sexuality are concerned. But the term queer, as Jagose points out, is under constant reform. The term has many characteristics, which keeps its theorists from finding a definitive explanation for it.
Roof Beam Reader (Adam)
Plenty of useful information and great discussion of various arguments surrounding gay/lesbian studies, feminism, gender, and identity - but the text seemed to be much more about those elements than about Queer Theory, specifically. Granted, there's a history leading up to Queer Theory & the fact that Queer Theory is ever-changing (by virtue of its being "queer" and therefore resistant to definition, a characteristic it shares with feminism) would make it hard to write an "About Me" book on Quee ...more
“Queer has little to gain from establishing itself as a monolithic descriptive category.”

My favourite sections of this book were the first chapter on theorising same-sex desires and the final chapter on contestations of queer. It is definitely an introduction to queer theory of the early 1990s and therefore will not provide much new information to those who are familiar with the theorists. It is helpful for students or beginners and a helpful place to have the key ideas outlined as well as the k
Joana Peroskia
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Introduction? I cant wait for the other parts of this great saga
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a fantastic first start for anyone interested in Queer Theory both in terms of the academic theory as well as the general history of queer people and the identity politics that dominate real life. For anyone in need of a jumping off point, or at least anyone trying to figure out whatever queer actually is, this book is a wonderful resource.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
While this obviously isn't the kind of reading I'd recommend anyone for fun, there is some very interesting historical information regarding the formation and transformation of what we currently think of as the LGBTQ community. Also some very dense theoretical stuff, if you're into that. ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty basic overview. Good for people interested in what all their grad school friends are goin in about as it’s quick, short, informative, and thorough enough to follow the conversation. It is rather dated though, so definitely keep that in mind.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Creating new labels to define one's sexual orientation is similar to the cages we are born into be they religions or traditions. I am a human. I do not want to be defined by impermenant changeable labels. ...more
Cathy Bogart
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful, but dense book (not for the faint of heart!). She gives an in-depth history of LGBT identities and movements that led up to the establishment queer theory.
Zach Irvin
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a short but dense book that deals with the nebulous and elusive critical mode known as queer theory. From the beginning Jagose makes the point that attempting to pin an exact definition to queer theory would be destructive since a large part of the appeal of queer theory is its ambiguity and open ended nature. This ends up making the book a bit of a paradox. Jagose begins by explaining the historical origins of the term 'queer'. It emerged out of gay and lesbian studies once those critic ...more
Candy Wood
First published in Australia, this book provides a readable summary of the history of queer theory primarily in the US and the UK. Jagose doesn’t attempt to establish a definition of “queer,” arguing that its usefulness as a term derives from its indefinite application. More than a brief substitute for “gay and lesbian,” “queer” calls all such identity categories into question and resists essentialism, the assumption that all members of a group have always shared some essential characteristics. ...more
This book is a prime example of why I hate having to read academic writing. Nine out of ten times the book/article will bore you to death. I will give this book, and others like it, credit- I fully believe they cure insomnia. On my worst nights this book put me to sleep after a chapter, and only a page on nights when I just had trouble falling asleep.

But enough of my ranting. Here's the scoop on this book: if you want to know how "homosexuality" became a term, how gays and lesbians began to get
Mariana Romo-Carmona
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction and good background of sociopolitical contexts. I was continually and pleasantly surprised by her inclusion of events, thinking, "oh, right, I remember when that happened." Since I'm going from being a writer and teacher of literature towards being a student of theory, it helps that I actually lived through some of the historical times she mentions. Great intro to U.S./Australian/European mainstream movements. It is general, no specifics on people of color yet some underst ...more
Geoffrey Bateman
I recently re-read this book for a class I'm teaching this semester (on Justice, Gender, Sexuality), and for the most part it still proves a useful introduction to queer theory, especially the chapters that give an overview to the political movements that gave rise to queer theory/activism (homophile, gay liberation, and lesbian feminism). Students still found the sections on post-structuralism and performativity a little dense and difficult, but our conversations in class seemed to go far in he ...more
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic
Although it may now be fairly dated at more than twenty years old (yikes!), this is a very readable introduction to queer theory, its history, utilizations, and criticism. Definitely recommended for anyone wanting to get their toes wet, and the bibliography is of course a great resource for those looking for more depth. I find myself wishing that there was a new version reflecting the major developments since this book's publication, since Jagose is very good at breaking things down and presenti ...more
Oct 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Solid, easy to read introduction to Queer Theory. I like that it's short, historical, and intentionally open to future possibilities. It does leave important stuff out, and I think it could have done a better job of pointing out the author's own role in constructing the history of Queer Theory.

Overall, I highly recommend for those who don't know much about Queer Theory and are looking for an easy, fairly comprehensive way in.
William Dearth
Feb 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american
To me it is neither clear or concise as it claims. The author seems more inclined to show off academic skills than to provide information. My college days are over so I don't tolerate much of this style of writing if I can help it. There is a story to be told, but someone else is going to have to tell it to me. I probably shouldn't mark it as read because I couldn't finish it--probably the only book in the last 2o years that I did not finish. ...more
Abhilasha Jain
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is a useful introduction. It attempts to historicise the coming and making of the queer theory, and 'queer' as such, the reclamation of queer that led to a newer and radicalised form of politics. As an introduction, it pretty much does its job, and could probably be seen as a good text to begin with. ...more
A useful and clear introduction to queer theory that effectively grounds it in its historical and contemporary cultural and social contexts. Fiftenn years after its first publication it remians one of the better introductions to the subject around.
A good introduction to the general ideas of queer theorists but incredibly dense and hard to understand. It could also probably be updated as it was originally written in the late 1990s and I feel as though the discussions presented in this book could be added on to as well.
Jose Madrigal
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is so helpful!! It's breaks down a lot of major authors that you might have to read. But even if you're not into queer theory, I'd still recommend this, as queer theory sets up a great model for thinking about other disciplines. ...more
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
great intro to queer theory. also demonstrates how queer theory can become hyperintellectual and politically inert.
Jessica Bolton
a necessary chronicle but a bit dry.
Gerardo Romo
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
It was really informative! I felt like a learned a lot and it made me question how I saw sexuality and gender--even more than I already was. Great read!
Susan Rose
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really good book to read for an overview of the mode of literary criticism and as a starting point for further reading and discussion.
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
The book had useful information for sure but many of it was confusing and badly structured. I can only hope that there are better books out there as an introduction to the topic.
Sep 15, 2014 marked it as partially-read
Read the first two chapters for a class.
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, owned
An excellent introduction to Queer Theory for anyone interested in the topic. Highly recommended. Also, an excellent source for Queer Theory studies.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very good introduction to queer theory and its history! Relatively accessible without diminishing the field. Now what we need is a newer, updated edition...
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very worthwhile introduction to an ever-growing field of inquiry.
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Annamarie Jagose is a writer of academic and fictional works.

She gained her PhD (Victoria University of Wellington) in 1992, and worked in the Department of English with Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne before returning to New Zealand in 2003, where she was a Professor in the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of Auckland and Head of the department f

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