Responding to the recent turn in queer theory toward the aesthetic and away from the antisocial theory of sex, this essay argues for recuperating queer sexual formalism as a basis for ethical relationality and communality. The essay focuses on a group of seventeenth-century mock-love lyrics known as “imperfect enjoyments” that interrupt both sexual and formal heteroconventions, turning the sexual impasse into a queerly generative and procreative act. Although scholars traditionally read the poems as satires on sexual failure, I show that libertine poets' investments in philosophical materialism, particularly Lucretian materialism, decenter this form of generation, allowing for the exploration of nonnormative, unscripted forms of creativity and relationality to emerge. Rejecting the notion that queer theory is “postsex,” the essay draws on Lucretian materialism to highlight the unlimited metamorphic possibilities of rearranging both art and life forms.
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Scarlet Bowen; Queering the Sexual Impasse in Seventeenth-Century “Imperfect Enjoyment” Poetry. GLQ 1 January 2013; 19 (1): 31–56. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-1729536
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