For the twenty-fifth anniversary of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, this lyric essay returns to the first appearance of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s much-anthologized article “Queer Performativity: Henry James’s The Art of the Novel” in the journal’s debut issue. Reading Sedgwick’s article through a biographical lens, the author argues that while readers have been more interested in Sedgwick’s neologism, queer performativity, than in her close reading of James’s prefaces, the real drama of Sedgwick’s article lies in her near-identification with James’s bouts of depression and shame surrounding his failures and blockages as a writer. Through her near-identification with James, Sedgwick finds a queer strategy for dealing with her shame and depression around her own writing as a poet. A doctoral student of Sedgwick’s, the author performs the same near-identification with Sedgwick that Sedgwick performs with James in an attempt to deal with her death during the writing of his dissertation. In doing so, the author invites readers to reflect on the near-identifications at work in their own reading and writing practices.

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