Poor Queer Studies

Confronting Elitism in the University

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: Published: March 2020

Author: Matt Brim

Activism, Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory, Pedagogy and Higher Education

In Poor Queer Studies Matt Brim shifts queer studies away from its familiar sites of elite education toward poor and working-class people, places, and pedagogies. Brim shows how queer studies also takes place beyond the halls of flagship institutions: in night school; after a three-hour commute; in overflowing classrooms at no-name colleges; with no research budget; without access to decent food; with kids in tow; in a state of homelessness. Drawing on the everyday experiences of teaching and learning queer studies at the College of Staten Island, Brim outlines the ways the field has been driven by the material and intellectual resources of those institutions that neglect and rarely serve poor and minority students. By exploring poor and working-class queer ideas and laying bare the structural and disciplinary mechanisms of inequality that suppress them, Brim jumpstarts a queer-class knowledge project committed to anti-elitist and anti-racist education. Poor Queer Studies is essential for all of those who care about the state of higher education and building a more equitable academy.


“Through his ethnographic accounts of the lives of his students, Matt Brim charts out in startling detail how queer studies produces class inequity. Having all the makings of a classic in queer studies and pedagogy studies, his book should be required reading in every intro to queer studies course at the undergraduate and graduate level. The field has needed Poor Queer Studies for a long time.” — E. Patrick Johnson, author of Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women

“Matt Brim's stunning Poor Queer Studies forces us to look at higher education through the lens of inequality to consider the ramifications of what he calls the ‘overrepresentation of affluence’ within academe. He assesses the ways faculty in programs dedicated to race, gender, and sexuality are marginalized, overworked, and undercompensated, then flips the equation to examine inequalities within and across these fields. Whether amassing demographic data or offering beautiful and challenging readings of key texts, Brim is relentlessly on target. His sweep and depth are breathtaking.” — Cathy N. Davidson, author of The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

"A damning critique of the impact of academic elitism on poor and working-class students. . . . Poor Queer Studies lays bare the structural and disciplinary mechanism of inequality, from overcrowded classrooms and inadequate educational resources to more basic deficiencies of the underprivileged such as homelessness, lack of access to food, healthcare, and childcare, and more." — Donald Padgett, The Advocate

"Provocative and timely. . . . Poor Queer Studies will be valuable reading if you work at any institution of higher education—poor or rich; public or private; urban or rural; elitist or not—because it offers indispensable tools for navigating the crises of the academy. Brim challenges readers to imagine what a queer-class analysis might yield not just for their own scholarship and teaching, but for the lives of their students and the worlds they inhabit." — Nino Testa, Women's Review of Books

"Poor Queer Studies not only questions the institutional evolution of the field, but also raises concerns about class that have not been addressed throughout the elitist razzle-dazzle of the discipline; or in other words 'rich' queer studies. . . . Poor Queer Studies is a courageous text. . . ." — Ipek Sahinler, E3W Review of Books

"This is a huge theoretical, methodological and political contribution to Queer Studies and in particular, Queer Pedagogies. Finishing this book leaves an uncomfortable doubt about how much and for whom are we allegedly queering academy and universities." — Luan C. B. Cassal, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"Any professional concerned with equity in higher education would do well to read this analysis of the stultifying inattention to the lives of poor and working-class LGBTQ individuals within the field of queer studies. . . . This is not a guide for instruction (i.e., there is no recommended curriculum or a listing of suggested texts), but rather a powerful examination of the field of queer studies and, more broadly, of its place within the context of efforts to make higher education more inclusive and welcoming to all seeking its benefits. Highly recommended. Faculty and professionals."
  — H. M. Miller, Choice

“…[P]overty and austerity make for strange and unfamiliar formations, and do not follow a single narrative…. In Poor Queer Studies, Matt Brim offers up both a challenge and a model. We would do well to follow.”

— Sarah Chinn, Radical Teacher

"Ostensibly a book about the discipline of queer studies, it actually provides a searing, astute indictment of what's wrong with the academy writ large. If you read only one book about the state of the academy, it ought to be Poor Queer Studies." — Rhea Rollmann, Popmatters

“Brim provides thorough, detailed, researched explanations of the arguments regarding just what Poor Queer Studies is and what it aims to do…. Poor Queer Studies is a much-needed resource to challenge us all to think about how we engage in Queer Studies, Queer Theory, and Queer Pedagogy across class and race. It is especially timely given where we find ourselves as a country with respect to issues and discussions of race and class as well as discussions regarding the importance of higher education.” — R. Bradley Johnson, et al, Teachers College Record

“This is a compassionate book, a book written by someone who possesses enough humility to learn from his poor and working-class students, particularly those of color, and to put that learning at the center of a book that is ironically—as he points out himself—published by a high-end university press.” — Renny Christopher, Journal of Working-Class Studies

"Poor Queer Studies offers nothing short of a proposal for a radically inclusive queer pedagogy." — Velina Manolova, Public Books


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Matt Brim is Associate Professor of Queer Studies in the English Department at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York; author of James Baldwin and the Queer Imagination; and coeditor of Imagining Queer Methods.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Queer Dinners  1
1. The College of Staten Island: A Poor Queer Studies Case Study  29
2. "You Can Write Your Way Out of Anywhere": The Upward Mobility Myth of Rich Queer Studies  64
3. The Queer Career: Vocational Queer Studies  99
4. Poor Queer Studies Mothers  135
5. Counternarratives: A Black Queer Reader  159
Epilogue. Queer Ferrying  194
Notes  203
Bibliography  225
Index  241
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Finalist, O.L. Davis Jr. Outstanding Book in Education Award, presented by the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0820-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0682-4