“Same Old Queer Theory, Literature and the Politics of Sameness” by Ben Nichols— A Rethinking

Nichols, Ben. “Same Old Queer Theory, Literature and the Politics of Sameness”, Manchester University Press, 2020.

A Rethinking

Amos Lassen

“Same Old” is a rethinking of positions that have defined queer theory since its inception in the early 1990s.  Through philosophical and political commitments to ‘difference’, queer theoretical frameworks have tended to assume that ideas related to ‘sameness’ only hinder and question queer forms of life. Writer Ben Nichols takes a number of these ideas as his focus – uselessness, reproduction, normativity and reductionism  and shows their unexpected formal and thematic importance to a range of queer literary genres from across the long twentieth century including fin-de-siècle aestheticism, feminist speculative fiction, lesbian middlebrow writing, and the ‘stud file’ or record of serial sex. He demonstrates how queer cultural objects are often at odds with the frameworks that have been meant to help interpret and comprehend them. Nichols interrogates the genealogy of the aversion to sameness that has kept those frameworks in place.


Introduction: Same old
1. Useless
2. Reproductive
3. Normative
4. Reductive
Coda: Same again