The Trouble with Normal
Sex, Politics and the Ethics of Queer Life
By (author) Michael Warner
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Trouble with Normal by Michael Warner
Book DescriptionMichael Warner, one of our most brilliant social critics, argues that gay marriage and other moves toward normalcy are bad not just for gays but for everyone. In place of sexual status quo, Warner offers a vision of true sexual autonomy that will forever change the way we think about sex, shame and identity.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780674004412
(210mm x 140mm x 16mm)
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Nov-2000
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Michael Warner
Tales to Make You Scream for Your Momma, Paperback / softback (October 2015)
A collection of stories featuring strange and frightening characters and events.
Rise and Fall of Intelligence, Paperback (March 2014)
Presents the history of the development of professional, institutionalized intelligence that examines the implications of the fall of the state monopoly on espionage today and beyond.
Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, Paperback (March 2013)
What does it mean to say that we live in a secular age? This title charts the conversations in which "A Secular Age" intervenes and addresses wider questions of secularism and secularity.
Portable Walt Whitman, Paperback (October 2004)» View all books by Michael Warner
When Walt Whitman published a collection of poems entitled "Leaves of Grass" in 1855, he was an unknown journalist from Long Island. His poetry broke new ground in its treatment of the individual, eroticism, mortality and the trauma of the Civil War and created an unfamiliar yet unabashedly American, voice for his country and his fellow people.
US Kirkus Review » Warner (English/Rutgers Univ.) challenges the current stodginess of queer activism - focused as it is on the gay community's hope to be considered "normal" - through his incisive critique of the banalities and dangers of such normalcy. Criticizing the way some identities are deemed normal while others are not (a la Foucault), Warner delineates with lapidary skill the problems of the cultural constructions of the normal, how heterosexual lives are thus validated at the expense of the queer. Using a smoothly textured argumentative style, Warner showcases the functioning of shame within a conservative ideological framework to reward some identities and punish others. His argument stands strongest when he concentrates on how the eradication of shame from sexuality would liberate queer communities from the monolith of marriage and how the rejection of normalcy would accord the gay community a liberated space within the spheres of the sexual culture. Ironically, the trouble with The Trouble with Normal is that it directs its arguments toward the queer community rather than the straight one. Telling gay people that, for various ethical reasons, they shouldn't even want to marry, when they already can't, does not change the fact that laws that enfranchise some while disenfranchising others are discriminatory. Warner's rhetoric persuasively reveals the hierarchical parameters of marriage and the constraints of normalcy, but a more universal approach to his topic would delineate the limitations of marriage for all people - not just queer people. In the end, his polemic leaves standing discriminatory treatment of queers for the sake of a theoretical attack on normalcy. Warner's ethical vision succeeds as a utopian revelation of sex freed from shame, but a sharper eye for the real-life ramifications of such an outlook might have revealed its limitations. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Michael Warner
Michael Warner is Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. He is the editor of American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King and Fear of a Queer Planet. He also writes for The Nation, The Advocate, The Village Voice, and other periodicals.
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