This article argues that queer theory must depart from three temporalities often attributed to fat bodies even in queer circles and theory—most notably by Lauren Berlant in the much-lauded Cruel Optimism. It asserts that figural exploitations of fatness have been too quickly accepted and demands that we rethink how we “figure” the matter of figure. Against fat temporalities that work according to the logics of fort/da, Nachträglichkeit, “before and after,” or, as Berlant puts it, fat as a “congealed form of history that hurts,” this article turns to often-ignored work on fat by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. A sustained reading of Sedgwick's poem “The Use of Being Fat” becomes the way through which this article argues for the possibility of a fat present/presence and the new fat hermeneutics required to notice the same. Queer theory will be left with two important methodological questions. First, how will accounts of queer affect weigh the import of fat and size, especially given the near ubiquity of homonormative abjections of fatness? Second, how will largesse live as and within queer readings and hermeneutics in such fat times?
Skip Nav Destination
Lucas Crawford; Slender Trouble: From Berlant's Cruel Figuring of Figure to Sedgwick's Fat Presence. GLQ 1 October 2017; 23 (4): 447–472. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-4157474
Download citation file: