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Metics, Methods, and Modernism


Methods Can Be Messy

Contributing to a discussion about feminism, modernism, and methodology is a daunting prospect. Not only is “feminism” a notoriously slippery concept to define once and for all (the “for all” is the part that tends to generate the most difficulty), but also the term “methodology” seems too antiseptic, too premeditated, to describe feminist work in the humanities. Social justice work in the humanities is often messy (in the generative sense described by Martin Manalansan) and contingent.[1]

There is not always a convenient fit between specific scholarly methods and particular social justice concerns (be they feminist, antiracist, materialist, decolonial, queer, or crip). As Robyn Wiegman notes in Object Lessons, no theory or methodology can guarantee that the outcomes of its use will be unproblematic. Describing the desire of “scholars in identity studies to offer cogent and full accounts of identity’s inherent multiplicity in ways that can exact specificity about human experience without reproducing exclusion,” Wiegman “aims to interrupt faith in just such a critical leap in order to attend to the daunting hope that underlies it: that if only we find the right discourse, object of study, or analytic tool, our critical practice will be adequate to the political commitments that inspire it.”[2] Wiegman’s “interruption” is not a call to eschew these commitments, but rather to acknowledge that methodological precision is not enough to close the gap between political desire and the objects of its aims.

To complicate matters further, “modernism” itself is a robustly debatable concept, with numerous scholars from Susan Stanford Friedman and Rita Felski to David James and Urmila Seshagiri advocating a variety of temporalities, geographies, legacies, and periodizations for modernism.[3] Triply confounded by the isotopic variability of modernism(s), feminism(s), and method(s), I often find myself resorting to what Constance Penley, following Michel de Certeau, calls “Brownian motion”—“the tactical maneuvers of the relatively powerless when attempting to resist, negotiate, or transform the systems and products of the relatively powerful”—in order to respond to the feminist challenges of the moment.[4] I do not mean this in a haphazard or relativist sense. I mean, rather, that one often can’t know in advance what tools or methods will be best for dismantling oppressive structures. Sometimes the “master’s tools” (despite Audre Lorde’s caution) are quite useful when modified for purposes not originally intended.[5] Anne Fernald’s call “for a new methodology in literary criticism, one that returns to biographical sources” is one such feminist repurposing of an established  critical tool. This tool was taken off the table when, as Rowena Kennedy-Epstein notes, New Criticism emerged and privileged “depoliticized, hyper-masculine” works while quarantining the author from the text by means of the intentional fallacy. Sometimes new tools (queer theory, postcolonial theory, crip theory, crunk feminism) must be forged to address previously unarticulated or unacknowledged concerns.[6] And sometimes we need multiple tools in the hands of multiple practitioners to address a thorny or multifaceted issue. Chela Sandoval addresses this need for multiple conceptual tools (she calls them modes of “oppositional consciousness”) in Methodology of the Oppressed.[7]  For Sandoval, the most generative form of oppositional consciousness is “differential consciousness,” a mode of thinking that is transformational, “while demanding alienation, perversion, and reformation in both spectators and practitioners” (44). The “alienation” embedded in differential consciousness also serves as inoculation against the firm faith in method that Wiegman “interrupts.”

Metic Meets Crip

How do we live with that necessary “alienation, perversion, and reformation” without falling prey to the kind of cynicism that Susan Sontag critiques in Regarding the Pain of Others when she notes that “citizens of modernity, consumers of violence as spectacle, adepts of proximity without risk, are schooled to be cynical about the possibility of sincerity”?[8] Is it possible to cultivate a sincere mode of “alienation, perversion, and reformation” from positions of relative privilege (if we are faculty or students) within the neoliberal university? As Ewa Ziarek notes, “the emancipatory/reparative potential of art [and I would say critique] coexists with its complicity with changing forms of power. Such complicity manifests itself, for instance, in the unjust division of labor, racism, and gender hierarchies shaping any artistic practice from both within and without; and finally, in the commodification of art and racialized, gendered bodies.”  The tension between alienation and privilege is one that I address in my previous work through the concept of “metic” modernism.[9] As a tactical maneuver to address some of the feminist challenges of the day, I aim in this essay to cultivate modes of queer/crip/metic attentiveness to modernist work.

In his advocacy for a “severe,” “cripping” practice of “collectively transforming . . . the substantive, material uses to which queer/disabled existence has been put by a system of compulsory able-bodiedness,” Robert McRuer implies that the terms “severe,” “crip” and “queer” are made operative by their performance—something like the arch, campy wielding of the word “fabulous” in situations that require countercultural critique. [10] “Severe, though less common than fabulous,” McRuer argues, “has a similar queer history: a severe critique is a fierce critique, a defiant critique, one that thoroughly and carefully reads a situation—and I mean reading in the street sense of loudly calling out the inadequacies of a given situation, person, text, or ideology” (Crip Theory, 30–31). While for my own purposes reclaiming the word “severe” is not a priority, the practice of  “fierce” and  “defiant” crip/queer/metic critique is.

The metic, in ancient Greece, was a privileged outsider who was allowed some of the benefits afforded citizens, but only at the sufferance of a citizen sponsor. This form of sponsorship traditionally carried with it the potential to be withdrawn, leaving the metic a bona fide alien without status in the polis. Interdisciplinary social-justice-oriented scholars often occupy something akin to metic status in academe, which is still largely organized by disciplinary departments. The potential alienation that accompanies metic status, when not weighed down with unendurable cynicism (a realistic and understandable possibility for the oppressed), can generate what José Medina calls “meta-lucidity.”[11]  For Medina, meta-lucidity is the counterpoint to forms of “epistemic insensitivity” that are endemic among knowers who largely experience the world from the vantage of privilege. Cherene Sherrard-Johnson’s opening question, “Why aren’t black women writers more central in conversations around the avant-garde in modernism?” is a bold and necessary identification of the type of epistemic insensitivity that Medina describes. Medina is careful to say that epistemic insensitivity is not intrinsic to privileged communities, but rather that it is more likely to thrive in an environment where there is not sufficient “epistemic friction” to challenge dominant worldviews that pose as universals. Drawing on W. E. B. Dubois’s description of the “reflection and self-examination” that is necessitated by the experience of living as an African American under a distorted white gaze, Medina argues that people of color and other marginalized people are likely to become “capable of seeing what the others do not see. . . . they are aware of a whole body of ignorance, a set of blind spots to which others remain insensitive” (Epistemology of Resistance, 196).

We often don’t have knowledge of what we don’t know, but we can, if we cultivate meta-lucidity, know that our knowledge of the world as we experience it is incomplete.[12] Virginia Woolf explains this concept in more colloquial terms when she notes that, “there is a spot the size of a shilling at the back of the head which one can never see for oneself. It is one of the good offices that sex can discharge for sex—to describe that spot.”[13] Medina himself notes the ableist connotations of the phrase “blind spots” in his forward to The Epistemology of Resistance and often substitutes the terms “epistemic insensitivity” or “epistemic numbness” for “epistemic blindness” in an attempt decouple the culturally overdetermined link between sight and knowledge (xi, xii). Rather than blindness or insensitivity, then, it may be useful to think about our socially produced knowledge gaps as incidences of inattention or failure to attend.

Alienation, or Attending Otherwise

Attending is akin to what Sara Ahmed describes as “orientation”—a turning toward or turning away from something present in one’s proximate environment.[14] As Ahmed explains in Queer Phenomenology:

To orient oneself can mean to adjust one’s position, or another’s position, such that we are “facing” the right direction: we know where we are through how we position ourselves in relation to others. Work also involves adjustments: we might move this way or that, so we can work with this or that object, which then works for us. The failure of work is not, then, “in” the thing or “in” the person but rather is about whether the person and the thing face each other in the right way (51, emphasis in original).

Attending to someone or something in the socially “wrong way” (such as calling out colleagues at a conference for failing to attend to issues of racism or ableism or sexism) can cause discomfort, or rather, according to Ahmed, can cause the person doing the calling out to be perceived as the cause of others’ discomfort. As she notes in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life, “To even use the word ‘racism’ can mean to become the subject of ill will. . . . Describing the problem of racism can mean being treated as if you have created the problem, as if the very talk about divisions is what is divisive.”[15] It is possible, for example, that this special cluster’s calling out (most pointedly in Urmila Seshagiri’s introduction) of the relative imbalance of attention to women modernists, even in the “new” modernisms, will be perceived as causing discomfort rather than merely pointing it out. Following Ahmed, we might think of such uncomfortable calls to shift our attention as a form of alienation, of making one affectively alien. As Ahmed explains, “We become alienated—out of line with an affective community—when we do not experience pleasure from proximity to objects that are attributed as being good.”[16] In Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Raymond Williams describes the varied and contested connotations of the word “alienation,” concluding that alienation provides “evidence of extensive feeling of a division between man [sic] and society.”[17]  In his 1985 essay, “Metropolitan Perceptions and the Emergence of Modernism,” Williams attributes “certain productive kinds of strangeness and distance” to a wave of “immigration to the metropolis.”[18] Williams does not delve into the violent genealogies of such immigration, focusing instead on migration from the rural to the urban, but Ahmed is clear that “[t]o speak out of consciousness of such [colonial] histories, and with consciousness of racism, is to become an affect alien” (Promise of Happiness, 158). Moreover, for Ahmed, alienation is experienced as more than cognitive “strangeness” or “distance.” It is linked to one’s “orientation” and presence in social space:

alienation is an intense burning presence; it is a feeling that takes place before others, from whom one is alienated, and can feel like a weight that both holds you down and keeps you apart. . . . Everything presses against you; you feel against the world and the world feels against you. . . . The revolutionary is an affect alien in this specific sense. You do not flow; you are stressed; you experience the world as a form of resistance in coming to resist a world (168–69).

There are many ways one can experience the world as a form of resistance or “pressing in” upon one’s self—a stair at the entry to a gathering place, an “overzealous” law enforcement officer on one’s route to a job interview, a bathroom that requires a birth certificate for admission, a denial of health care, a withholding of respect—the list is long and cumulative in effect. A queer/crip/metic form of alienation might thus be imagined as pressing back upon the pressure to face the world in “the right” (i.e. dominantly structured) way, thereby generating epistemic and material friction.

Biopolitical Dis-ease and Crip Futurity

Crip theory, which is one, but certainly not the only, mode of pressing back against dominant pressure, analyzes the force of social norms as they impinge upon bodies, minds, and psyches, especially those which deviate from culturally constructed ideals and are therefore deemed pathological. That is, crip theory moves us to attend to particular aspects of biopower—compulsory ablebodiedness (following McRuer) and hetero-ableist temporality (following Alison Kafer). Crip orientation is not at the expense of, but in complex relationship with other analyses of biopower, including critiques of scientific racism and queer theory. Such analyses of biopower are especially helpful to understanding the cultural landscapes of early twentieth century Western Europe and North America, and therefore for understanding the cultural landscape(s) of modernism. For pragmatic reasons (“modernity” can stretch out for centuries depending on how one defines it) as well as culturally-specific reasons (modernism coincided with the apotheosis of biopower in eugenicist and totalitarian atrocities of the mid-twentieth century), I am sympathetic with Seshagiri and James’s call for drawing temporal boundaries around the concept of  (Euro-American) modernism, although the recent resurgence of (neo)fascist thought and activity may provide motivation for further contemplation of modernism’s recrudescence in the early twenty first century.[19]

“Recrudescence” is not as tangential to crip theorizing as it might initially seem. The term recrudescent evokes nonlinear temporality. The OED defines it as “breaking out again; resurgent, reviving” or in medical terms as the reoccurrence of a “disease, symptom, or condition.”[20] The language of disease or symptom is of course problematic, but we might imagine recrudescence as the return of dis-ease, something like discomfort as Ahmed describes it.[21] Both the affective force of dis-ease in spatial settings among bodies that are shaped (or misshaped) by the repeated pressure of cultural norms and the oppressiveness of normative temporality are concerns of crip theory, which nuances both the social model of disability favored among disability studies scholars and the skepticism of futurity evident in recent strains of queer theory.[22] Disability studies has been very clear about locating disability not within an individual who may have atypical traits or capacities, but rather in the social structures that make it difficult or impossible for a person with such traits to navigate a world riddled with impediments and barriers to that navigation. The social model of disability calls into question the “medical model” of disability, wherein disability is a property of an individual who must adapt to social structures through accommodation or long-awaited cure. Kafer defines her crip “political/relational” perspective as a  “friendly departure” from the social model of disability, insofar as she recognizes the social dimensions of disability, but balks at a strict demarcation between impairment—“any physical or mental limitation” and disability—“the social exclusions based on and social meanings attributed to, that impairment.” [23] For Kafer, a strict social model of disability does not sufficiently address the lived realities of persons with conditions such as “chronic illness, pain, and fatigue” who face the disabling conditions of society but also “the often-disabling effects of our bodies” (Feminist, Queer, Crip, 7). As a result, in a strict social model, a person’s desire for a future made more livable through medical intervention can be confused with the (justly critiqued) eugenicist hope for a future without disabled people. As Kafer explains:

Focusing exclusively on disabling barriers, as a strict social model seems to do, renders pain and fatigue irrelevant to the project of disability politics. As a result, the social model can marginalize those disabled people who are interested in medical interventions or cures. In a complete reversal of the individual/ medical model, which imagines individual cure as the desired future for disability, a strict social model completely casts cure out of our imagined futures; cure becomes the future no self-respecting disability activist or scholar wants. (7)

The concept of futurity is vexed in crip theory, especially given that, as Kafer notes, those outside the norm for ablebodiedness and/or ablemindedness “were—and often are—figured as threats to futurity” (31). On the one hand, utopic visions of a future without disabled people have too often resulted in blatantly eugenic ideologies and practices. Virginia Woolf, for example, was persuaded by her doctors to forego having children. One of those doctors was George Savage, who cautioned that, “an insane patient may have an insane, idiotic, wicked, epileptic or somnambulistic child.”[24] Kafer reads the history of such eugenicist ideas against Lee Edelman’s critique of reproductive futurism. On the one hand, reproductive futurism holds the present hostage for the sake of some imagined and ideal future child. For Edelman, “queerness” entails resistance to this reproductive futurism and the heteronormative social order it props up (No Future, 3). On the other hand, as Kafer notes, following Jose Muñoz, “The always already white Child is also always already healthy and nondisabled; disabled children are not part of this privileged imaginary except as the abject other” (Feminist, Queer, Crip, 32–33). Kafer thus argues for a notion of crip futurity rather than eschewing futurity altogether: “The task, then, is not so much to refuse the future as to imagine disability and disability futures otherwise, as part of other, alternate temporalities that do not cast disabled people out of time, as the sign of the future of no future” (34). Crip temporality—the insistence that disabled people have a present worth inhabiting and future worth imagining, resists the pressure of cultural dis-ease (or discomfort as Ahmed defines it) while calling out the impairing and disabling effects of dis-ease upon bodies and minds that do not meet normative ideals.

Dis-ease, from a crip/feminist perspective, amplifies the force of social and cultural conditions that stigmatize in the name of normativity, inhibit access to life sustaining resources in the name of the health of a population, extinguish lives (the lives of others conceived of as a threat to the health of the polis) in the name of preserving, or as Michel Foucault says, “administering” life.[25] Under biopolitical regimes, the large scale killing of others is justified (and I can’t help thinking of the urgent work of the Black Lives Matter movement in this regard, or the drone killings of mostly brown people to ensure “security” for mostly white people) in the name of serving and protecting a social structure where, as Foucault explains, “power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of population” (History of Sexuality, 137).[26] With this in mind, crip theory is an important tool for feminist work in modernist studies not because it is new (as if simply being newer makes a tool or practice better), but because it critically addresses the effects of biopower on bodies, subcultural populations, and (perhaps most critical for scholars in the humanities) cultural imaginaries that naturalize biopower’s effects. In a nutshell, crip work is necessary because lethal forms of biopower are so resilient.

Cripping Modernism

Kafer advocates a crip mode of “reading” (I would say “attending”) that disrupts disabling cultural imaginaries and “mov[es] us toward accessible futures” (Feminist, Queer, Crip, 149–50). This entails “looking for disability in places it has gone unmarked” (or, to put it another way, paying attention to disability in places it has gone unattended) (150). When we orient ourselves to attend to disability, it suddenly appears everywhere we turn in modernist work, revealing a great deal about how normative and non-normative bodies, minds, and affective dispositions function in a given cultural imaginary. To be clear, I’m not the first person to notice the ubiquity of disability representations in modernist literature. Janet Lyon, Michael Davidson, Joe Valente, and Maren Tova Linnet, among others, have undertaken important studies of disability in modernism.[27] My primary aim in this essay has not been to offer another reading of modernist literature to set alongside their exceptional work, but rather to incite queer/crip/feminist (and perhaps metic) modes of inhabiting modernist studies. [28] To borrow from Medina’s borrowing of DuBois, a crip mode of attending can help us “feel the weight of the ignorance of the [ableist] world” and perhaps provide enough “epistemic friction” to dislodge normative cultural imaginaries (Epistemology of Resistance, 196, emphasis in original).

That said, here are some examples of how even mainstream modernism might appear “otherwise” (to borrow Kafer’s term) when we attend to it in a crip mode.[29]  When we reread Lady Chatterley’s Lover in a crip mode, for example, Clifford’s depiction becomes much more salient and conversations about masculinity, class, normative heterosexuality, militarism, and virility can be called into question for their assumptions about able-bodiedness. Clifford comes home from World War I “[c]rippled for ever, knowing he could never have any children.”[30] He is thus cast into a different relationship to futurity, a relationship that Lawrence depicts as soulless and polluted by mechanistic industrialism. Clifford is presumed not capable of being sexual with his wife, Constance. Her father even goes so far as to warn her against the potential of becoming a “demi-vierge” because, from Sir Malcolm’s perspective, Clifford is obviously not able to satisfy Constance sexually (Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 17). From the start of the novel, then, Lawrence relies on and propagates the presumption that a man in a wheelchair is not capable of being sexual. Clifford’s disability serves as a symbol, for Lawrence, of a larger problem in British culture—a loss of “natural” virility due to the seemingly unnatural ravages of industrialism, militarism, and, perhaps, feminism. Indeed, before Clifford’s injury, his sex life is portrayed as atrophied, somehow unmanly—“Clifford anyhow was not just keen on his ‘satisfaction,’ as so many men seemed to be. No, the intimacy was deeper, more personal than that. And sex was a mere accident, or an adjunct” (12). Clifford’s disability is both overdetermined and underdeveloped, serving less as a particular condition confronted by a particular man than as the apotheosis of what is already a given (Britain’s emasculation by industrialism) in the worldview presented by Lawrence’s novel.

One can see this nexus of concerns about normative masculinity coalescing in other scenes involving disabled characters in modernist work. For example, the “telling secret” of Jake’s apparently sexually debilitating injury in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises operates as the organizing trauma in the narrative, standing in for the loss implicit in the novel’s epigraph (attributed to Gertrude Stein), “You are all a lost generation.”[31] It is taken for granted in the logic of the narrative that Jake and Brett (Lady Ashley), who are in love with each other, cannot consummate a sexual relationship because of Jake’s war injury.[32] The exact nature of Jake’s injury is never revealed, just its effects, which render Jake incapable of performing sexually with Brett (or any other woman). Jake is able to kiss and to hold Brett and is apparently otherwise able-bodied, which leads the reader to infer that Jake has suffered some sort of injury to his genitals. Here, a crip reading reveals the normative logic (and resultant despair) of Hemingway’s narrative. As is the case in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, sexual penetration by a normatively functioning penis is apparently the definition of sexual performance that will satisfy a “normal” woman. Brett and Jake can’t be together, despite their clear desire to be, because of Jake’s disability. Their relationship, like their “lost” generation, has no futurity. As such, Hemingway’s depiction of Jake participates in the temporal logic that Kafer critiques, placing Jake “out of time and out of our futures” (Feminist, Queer, Crip, 33). Jake is like the “steer” (a castrated bull) set in amongst the virile bulls in order to “run around like old maids trying to quiet them down” (Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, 106). It is only Jake’s stoicism (and perhaps alcoholism) that keeps him from being like an “old maid”—feminized and banished from the normative temporality of “reproductive futurism.”[33]

It should come as no surprise, given the entwining of biopower, scientific racism, and eugenics in the early twentieth century, that the other character likened to a “steer” in The Sun Also Rises is Robert Cohen, who is the subject of so many anti-Semitic slurs in the novel.[34] The stereotype of the feminized Jewish man has been examined carefully by scholars such as Sander Gilman and Daniel Boyarin.[35] How do we read the conjunction of this stereotype and disability in yet another modernist novel where it surfaces, James Joyce’s Ulysses? Is Bloom’s public masturbation a sign of his virile masculinity, or a marker of his overdetermined queerness as a Jewish man in overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland? How does Gerty’s “lame[ness]” complicate our understanding of Bloom’s voyeuristic public sex, especially given that Bloom regards Gerty’s limp as a kind of turn on—“Curiosity like a nun or a negress or a girl with glasses?”[36] In her recent book, Linett performs an extensive reading of Gerty’s lameness and its place in Bloom’s autoerotic fantasy, so I will not reduplicate her magnificent work here, except to suggest that the scene is one of many in a litany of representations of disability as it stands in for, complicates, or overdetermines sexuality in modernist work.[37] I could go on: Benjy in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, whose intellectual disability makes him a naïve (untouched by psychoanalytic insights about normative sexuality) narrator in a narrative all about the intricate/incestuous sexual miasma of the Compson family; Stevie (whom Joe Valente has dubbed the “accidental autist”) in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, whose cognitive atypicality seems to represent for Conrad both degeneracy, overdependence on feminine protection, and manipulability; and Tiresias in T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” who is both blind and gender non-binary (having been both man and woman, therefore an “old man with wrinkled dugs”).[38] What surfaces from reciting this litany is a constellation of ideas about normative masculinity, sex (the verb), and gender. This constellation has the potential of illuminating how literary modernism (or modernisms) respond to and contribute to biopolitical social formations such as eugenics, scientific racism, sexology, psychology, and gender normativity.

As I have noted, these examples are not meant to be exhaustive or authoritative, but rather suggestive. In many ways, my litany is a recital of what becomes quite obvious once we begin, like Kafer, “looking for disability in places it has gone unmarked” (Feminist, Queer, Crip, 150). That the obvious has gone relatively unremarked for five or more decades of scholarship on modernism is perhaps the most salient observation I can make about modernism, feminism, and methodology, for in order for us to attend to what is right before us (or perhaps behind us, in that spot the size of a shilling that we can’t describe for ourselves) our methods must not be fixed, but rather susceptible to being dislodged and therefore adaptive. Such adaptive, admittedly methodologically impure, work is necessary—not simply because it helps us to understand modernism more thoroughly, but also because it can help us to understand how cultural imaginaries are formed, perpetuated, and hopefully transformed in our own biopolitically charged moment.


My deep gratitude to Urmila Seshagiri for her patient and helpful editing of this essay, to Debra Rae Cohen and the anonymous reviewers for Modernism/modernity, to my students in Crip Theory, who inspire and teach me daily, to Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. for her generosity in discussing the fine details of epistemology with me, as well as to Maren Linett for sharing with me proofs of Chapter One of her book Bodies of Modernism: Physical Disability in Transatlantic Modernist Literature. All errors and infelicities are, of course, my own.

[1] Martin F. Manalansan IV, “The ‘Stuff’ of Archives: Mess, Migration, and Queer Lives,” Radical History Review 120 (Fall 2014): 94–107.

[2] Robyn Wiegman, Object Lessons (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 2–3.

[3] For example, at the very first Modernist Studies Association conference (devoted to “the new modernisms”) Rita Felski examined the multiple temporalities of modernity (and postmodernity), especially with regard to gender. Drawing on the work of postcolonial and women of color feminisms, Susan Stanford Friedman argued in 1998 for a “locational feminism” that “is not parochially limited to a single feminist formation and takes as its founding principle the multiplicity of heterogeneous feminist movements and the conditions that produce them” (Susan Stanford Friedman, Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998], 5). David James and Urmila Seshagiri acknowledge this temporal and geographical expansion of the concept of modernism, but call for firmer boundaries around the term, suggesting that there is much to be gained from a renewed attention to periodization that grounds the concept of modernism in the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries (David James and Urmila Seshagiri, “Metamodernism: Narratives of Continuity and Revolution,” PMLA 129, no. 1 [2014]: 87-100, 88). See also the contributions in Geomodernisms: Race, Modernism, Modernity, ed. Laura Doyle and Laura Winkiel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).

[4] Constance Penley, NASA/TREK: Popular Science and Sex in America (New York: Verso, 1997), 104.

[5] Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde (Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1984), 110–13, 112.

[6] For a description of crunk feminism, see Crunk Feminist Collective, “Mission Statement,”

[7] Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000).

[8] Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003), 111.

[9] Madelyn Detloff, The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 4–8.

[10] Robert McRuer, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 32, 30.

[11] José Medina, The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 186.

[12] David Dunning, et al., explain our inability to recognize our lack of competence in “Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 12, no. 3 (2003): 83-87.

[13] Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1957), 94.

[14] Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 2. Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. also emphasizes the importance of “attending” in her work, most recently in “Knowing without Borders and the Work of Epistemic Gathering,” forthcoming in Decolonizing Feminism: Transnational Feminism and Globalization, ed. Margaret A. McLaren (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017).

[15] Sara Ahmed, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 152.

[16] Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 41.

[17] Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Rev. Ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 36.

[18] Raymond Williams, “Metropolitan Perceptions and the Emergence of Modernism,” in Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists (London: Verso, 1989), 37–48, 45–46.

[19] On the recrudescence of modernism, see Detloff, The Persistence of Modernism.

[20]  OED Online, March 2016, s.v., “recrudescent, adj.”

[21] In The Cultural Politics of Emotion (New York: Routledge, 2004), Ahmed argues, “Discomfort is a feeling of disorientation: one’s body feels out of place, awkward, unsettled. I know that feeling too well, the sense of out-of-place-ness and estrangement involves an acute awareness of the surface of one’s body, which appears as surface, when one cannot inhabit the social skin, which is shaped by some bodies, and not others. Furthermore, queer subjects may also be ‘asked’ not to make heterosexuals feel uncomfortable by avoiding the display of signs of queer intimacy, which is itself an uncomfortable feeling, a restriction on what one can do with one’s body, and another’s body, in social space. The availability of comfort for some bodies may depend on the labour of others, and the burden of concealment” (148–49).

[22] Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004) is the provocative exemplar of this strain.

[23] Alison Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 7.

[24] See Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), 184.

[25] Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Vol. 1, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Random House, 1990), 136–37.

[26] The rise of the incarceration rates for black men and women in the United States since the 1980s provides a good example of how biopower works to limit freedoms and overregulate the bodies of some populations in the name of “public safety” or the health of the general (i.e. dominant) population. Lawrence D. Bobo and Victor Thompson chart the evolution of “racialized mass incarceration” and the correlations between punitive legal attitudes, mass incarceration, since 1980 in their essay, “Racialized Mass Incarceration: Poverty, Prejudice, and Punishment,” in Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century, ed. Hazel Rose Markus and Paula M. L. Moya (New York: W. W. Norton, 2010), 322–55, 322.

[27] Michael Davidson, Concerto for the Left Hand: Disability and the Defamiliar Body (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008); Janet Lyon, “On the Asylum Road with Woolf and Mew,” Modernism/modernity 18, no. 3 (2011): 551–74; Joe Valente, “The Accidental Autist: Neurosensory Disorder in The Secret Agent,” Journal of Modern Literature 38, no.1 (2014): 20–37; Maren Tova Linett, Bodies of Modernism: Physical Disability in Transatlantic Modernist Literature (Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press, 2017).

[28] See Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip, 150; Sandoval, Methodology, 44; and Medina, Epistemology of Resistance, 186.

[29] I do not mean to suggest here that Lawrence, or Joyce, or Hemingway should be regarded as exemplary of modernism, but rather to suggest that a crip mode of attending is appropriate for all modernist texts, not merely feminist or queer readings of Woolf or Barnes or H.D. That said, such readings provide us much to contemplate. See Michael Davidson’s crip reading of Nightwood, for example, in “Pregnant Men: Modernism, Disability, and Biofuturity,” in Sex and Disability, ed. Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 123–144.

[30] D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (New York: Penguin Books, 1994), 5.

[31] Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (New York: Scribner, 2002), xxiii. On the queer epistemological connotations of the “telling secret” in the early twentieth century, see Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 67.

[32] Reading from a disability studies perspective, Dana Fore suggests that Jake and Brett almost, but do not quite, come to the realization that they could be together in a sexually satisfying relationship despite Jake’s injury (Dana Fore, “Life Unworthy of Life?: Masculinity, Disability, and Guilt in The Sun Also Rises,” The Hemingway Review 26, no. 2 [2007]:74–88, 86).

[33] On [hetero]reproductive futurism, see Lee Edelman’s No Future, 3, as well as Kafer’s crip response to Edelman’s thesis, Feminist, Queer, Crip, 31–34.

[34] Jeremy Kaye’s insightful analysis of Cohn’s character illuminates the queer potential of reading Cohn as the muscular and virile norm against which Jake constitutes his own masculinity (Jeremy Kaye, “The ‘Whine’ of Jewish Manhood: Re-Reading Hemingway’s Anti-Semitism, Reimagining Robert Cohn,” The Hemingway Review 25, no. 2 [2006]: 44–60).

[35] Daniel Boyarin, “Homotopia: The Feminized Jewish Man and the Lives of Women in Late Antiquity,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 7, no. 2 (1995): 41–81; Sander Gilman, The Jew’s Body (New York: Routledge, 1991); Kaye references both Gilman and Boyarin in his essay.

[36] James Joyce, Ulysses, in The James Joyce Collection: Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chamber Music, Exiles, Kindle Edition (Alvin, TX: Halcyon Classics, 2009) Loc. 5148-51.

[37] See Linett, Bodies of Modernism, 19–54.

[38] T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), 38.