"Theory Uncompromised by Practicality": Hybridity in Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex

"Theory Uncompromised by Practicality": Hybridity in Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex D E B R A S H O S TA K he intersexed body clearly challenges conceptual categories. It therefore can serve, like drag, as a case study aimed at both stimulating and troubling theoretical attempts to account for the social construction of gender, especially the relations among gender, sexuality, and the body. But because real people also inhabit intersexed bodies, suffering the social consequences of their exclusion from normatively categorized identities, more is obviously at stake in thinking about intersexuality than theory itself, as scholars such as Anne FaustoSterling, Alice Domurat Dreger, and Suzanne J. Kessler have been mindful. The potential challenge uncovered by the exploration of the intersexed body echoes a problem that recurs in such political criticisms as feminism: the act of description, with its concomitant act of theorizing, does not necessarily support activism in the world, a politics of social change that might alter the lives of those who live on the margins. This is of course not news to scholars who regularly engage with the relation of theory to praxis, but mainstream fiction has not often taken up the challenge. Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize­winning comic epic Middlesex (2002), however, offers in its portrait http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

"Theory Uncompromised by Practicality": Hybridity in Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex

Contemporary Literature, Volume 49 (3) – Jan 10, 2008

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
ISSN
1548-9949
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Abstract

D E B R A S H O S TA K he intersexed body clearly challenges conceptual categories. It therefore can serve, like drag, as a case study aimed at both stimulating and troubling theoretical attempts to account for the social construction of gender, especially the relations among gender, sexuality, and the body. But because real people also inhabit intersexed bodies, suffering the social consequences of their exclusion from normatively categorized identities, more is obviously at stake in thinking about intersexuality than theory itself, as scholars such as Anne FaustoSterling, Alice Domurat Dreger, and Suzanne J. Kessler have been mindful. The potential challenge uncovered by the exploration of the intersexed body echoes a problem that recurs in such political criticisms as feminism: the act of description, with its concomitant act of theorizing, does not necessarily support activism in the world, a politics of social change that might alter the lives of those who live on the margins. This is of course not news to scholars who regularly engage with the relation of theory to praxis, but mainstream fiction has not often taken up the challenge. Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize­winning comic epic Middlesex (2002), however, offers in its portrait

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Jan 10, 2008

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