“Sexual Identities: A Cognitive Literary Study” by Patrick Colm Hogan— Identity, The Diversity of Sexuality and the Scope of Gender

Hogan, Patrick Colm. “Sexual Identities: A Cognitive Literary Study”, (Cognition and Poetics), Oxford University Press, 2018.

Identity, The Diversity of Sexuality and the Scope of Gender

Amos Lassen

In “Sexual Identities”, Patrick Colm Hogan extends his work on identity to examine the complexities of sex, the diversity of sexuality, and the limited scope of gender. He uses a diverse body of literary works and illustrates a rarely drawn distinction between practical identity (the patterns in what one does, thinks, and feels) and categorical identity (how one labels oneself or is categorized by society). Using that distinction, “he offers a nuanced reformulation of the idea of social construction, distinguishing ideology, situational determination, shallow socialization, and deep socialization.” His argument is for “a meticulous skepticism about gender differences and a view of sexuality as evolved but also contingent and highly variable. The variability of sexuality and the near absence of gender fixity–and the imperfect alignment of practical and categorical identities in both cases–give rise to the social practices that Judith Butler refers to as “regulatory regimes.” Hogan explores the cognitive and affective operation of such regimes.” The book turns to sex and the question of how to understand transgendering in a way that respects the dignity of transgender people, without reverting to gender essentialism.

Hogan delivers the foundations of what we really need to understand about the ways that we “exist as situated sexual beings in the world.” Hogan adds to and deepens the major intellectual traditions that inform sexuality and gender studies. He “presents a brilliant, insightful and nuanced investigation of sexuality and gender. Considering the role of affect and emotion in shaping sexual identities, among other innovations and modifications, it is a provocative and significant contribution to the burgeoning field of cognitive cultural study.”

“Drawing on cognitive science, post-structuralism, feminism, discourse analysis, and queer theory, Hogan demonstrates that we cannot fully understand what drives sexual and gender dimorphism unless we inquire into the specific cognitive biases that structure our notions of identity. Coming from the humanities and remaining committed to the rich interpretive tradition of literary studies, Hogan is poised to transform both the sciences and the humanities.”-Lisa Zunshine, Bush-Holbrook Professor of English, University of Kentucky

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