“Queer Faith: Reading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition” by Melissa E. Sanchez— Textual Queer Logic

Sanchez, Melissa E. “Queer Faith: Reading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition”, (Sexual Cultures), NYU Press, 2019.

Textual Queer Logic

Amos Lassen

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that religious texts that predate the modern era contain queer logic just as do secular texts. Melissa Sanchez brings premodern theology and poetry into dialogue with contemporary theory and politics and reassesses the idea that the modern veneration of sexual monogamy and fidelity comes from Protestant thought. What if this narrative of “history and tradition” suppresses the queerness of its own foundational texts? Sanchez examines key works of the prehistory of monogamy including from Paul to Luther, Petrarch to Shakespeare—to show that writing assumed to promote fidelity in fact speaks of promiscuity, both in its sexual sense and in its larger designation of all that is impure and disorderly. Sanchez does not show promiscuity as the ethical, queer alternative to monogamy, but rather shows how ideals of sexual liberation are themselves attached to nascent racial and economic hierarchies. We understand that discourses of fidelity and freedom are also discourses on racial and sexual positionality thus making it necessary and urgent to excavating the historical entanglement of faith, race, and eroticism and include them in contemporary queer debates about normativity, agency, and relationality.

This might sound like it is a heavy read but it is not. As she looks at erotic accountability, procreation and orgasms and human sexuality’s many manifestations, Sanchez keeps us smiling with her unique kind of humor She is “deliberately unfaithful to disciplinary norms and national boundaries” as she presents new conceptual frameworks at the meetings of secular and religious thought, political and aesthetic form. And thus enlarges the contexts, objects, and authorized genealogies of queer scholarship. Sanchez has recovered writing that “inscribes radical queer insights at the premodern foundations of conservative and heteronormative culture.”

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