Wild Things

The Disorder of Desire

Wild Things

Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe

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Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 7 illustrations Published: October 2020

Author: Jack Halberstam

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory, Theory and Philosophy

In Wild Things Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which wildness has been associated with queerness and queer bodies throughout the twentieth century. Halberstam theorizes the wild as an unbounded and unpredictable space that offers sources of opposition to modernity's orderly impulses. Wildness illuminates the normative taxonomies of sexuality against which radical queer practice and politics operate. Throughout, Halberstam engages with a wide variety of texts, practices, and cultural imaginaries—from zombies, falconry, and M. NourbeSe Philip's Zong! to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and the career of Irish anticolonial revolutionary Roger Casement—to demonstrate how wildness provides the means to know and to be in ways that transgress Euro-American notions of the modern liberal subject. With Wild Things, Halberstam opens new possibilities for queer theory and for wild thinking more broadly.


“Where can the wild take you? With Jack Halberstam as guide, to places fabulous, cruel, soaring, undead, hilarious, dark, seductive, promising, nonprovidential. Wild Things is a brilliant phenomenology of the (more than) human condition of bewilderment. Its critique of invocations of wildness tethered to colonial, racist fantasies also marks how the figure can contribute to forms of desire bent toward the feral, the incipient, the otherwise. Wild Things is an awesome trip.” — Jane Bennett, author of Influx and Efflux: Writing Up with Walt Whitman

“How does one learn about wildness? Coming from a longtime scholar of sexuality, the animal, desire, and anarchy, Jack Halberstam's Wild Things fosters a generous archive, favoring bewilderment over a ritual turn back to order and knowing. Following this book constitutes a kind of epistemological travel and culminates in a habit of sensation, a disorderly campaign, and a queer method that will stay with you.” — Mel Y. Chen, author of Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect

"[A] creative, discipline-smashing study exploring the human attraction to 'the wild.' . . . Halberstam’s approach is equal parts academic and poetic, making for a dense and, at times, beautiful text. This is a work that demands attention, which it rewards with both insight and entertainment." — Publishers Weekly

“In Wild Things Halberstam moves restlessly across literature, cinema, theater, music, and poetry, determining the various modes by which people have devoted themselves to, or been effectively written within, the incomprehensibilities of the wild, of wildness, and of bewilderment…. Wild Things (un)clarifies the wild as an always-present threat to modernity’s coherence, illuminating the anti-Black and heteronormative carceral logics at the heart of liberal democracy by unveiling those under common ways of knowing and being that liberalism seeks to obscure, incorporate, lock up, or destroy.” — Invisible Culture

"The limits of Halberstam's analysis are boundlessly educative and entertaining: one chapter calls out proto-queer male writers for their affinity and identification with feral falconry while another examines the nature of family pets. Within the realms of what the author himself calls a 'counterintuitive queer project,' Halberstam's intellectually engrossing phenomenology evokes thoughts of how the concept of 'wild' can be applied to creatures and concepts both great and small while inspiring spirited conversation and debate." — Jim Piechota, Bay Area Reporter

"Wild Things offers readers and scholars working on environmental questions a vibrant archive for thinking histories of sexuality and desire alongside concepts of the “wild” and its disorders. . . . The text is especially rich as an archive of the ways wildness persists within and can be activated against modernist writers. Halberstam’s wildness is a morally ambivalent, non-identitarian invitation—one that might lead to bewilderment, zombies, children’s books, hawks, or any number of other queer, wild things." — Julia Dauer, Edge Effects


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jack Halberstam is Professor of English and Gender Studies at Columbia University and the author of several books, including The Queer Art of Failure and Female Masculinity, both also published by Duke University Press, and Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  ix
Acknowledgments  xiii
Part I. Sex in the Wild
Introduction. Sex before, after, and against Nature  3
1. Wildness, Loss, and Death  33
2. "A New Kind of Wildness": The Rite of Spring and and Indigenous Aesthetics of Bewilderment  51
3. The Epistemology of the Ferox: Sex, Death, and Falconry  77
Part II. Animality
Introduction. Into the Wild  115
4. Where the Wild Things Are: Humans, Animals, and Children  125
5. Zombie Antihumanism at the End of the World  147
Conclusions. The Ninth Wave  175
Notes  181
Bibliography  201
Index  211
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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