“Queer Faith: Reading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition” by Melissa E. Sanchez— Queer Logics of Postmodern Religious and Secular Texts

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

Queer Logics of Premodern Religious and Secular Texts

Amos Lassen

“Putting premodern theology and poetry in dialogue with contemporary theory and politics, Queer Faith reassess the commonplace view that a modern veneration of sexual monogamy and fidelity finds its roots in Protestant thought.” If we suppose that this narrative of “history and tradition” suppresses the queerness of its own foundational texts, what becomes the result. “Queer Faith” looks at key works of the prehistory of monogamy (from Paul to Luther, Petrarch to Shakespeare) and shows that writing assumed to promote fidelity actually speaks about the affordances and benefits of promiscuity, both in its sexual sense and in the designation of all that is impure and disorderly. Writer Melissa E. Sanchez does not see promiscuity as the ethical, queer alternative to monogamy and she instead shows how ideals of sexual liberation are themselves attached to nascent racial and economic hierarchies. Because discourses of fidelity and freedom also deal with racial and sexual positionality, understanding the complex historical entanglement of faith, race, and eroticism is not only necessary but urgent to contemporary queer debates about normativity, agency, and relationality.

We see new conceptual frameworks at the juncture of secular and religious thought, political and aesthetic form  and this is because the assembly of these ideas have been deliberately unfaithful to disciplinary norms and national boundaries. The contexts, objects, and authorized genealogies of queer scholarship are enlarged and retracing a history that did not have to be. In doing so, Sanchez recovers writing that “inscribes radical queer insights at the premodern foundations of conservative and heteronormative culture.”

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