This article responds to Lisa Duggan’s “The Discipline Problem: Queer Theory Meets Lesbian and Gay Studies” (1995), which was published in an early issue of GLQ. In arguing queer theory’s disinterest in empirical research in the 1990s, Duggan’s article seems to anticipate Laura Doan, Valerie Traub, and Heather Love’s recent critiques of queer studies’ anti-empiricism. However, although ostensibly in line with Duggan’s argument, most of this recent work lacks Duggan’s attention to how specific institutional practices give shape to the field. In emphasizing discursive debates over material institutional practices, I argue that queer studies scholars often produce stories about queer studies that are strikingly at odds with what the field actually looks like on an institutional level.
Does Queer Studies Have an Anti-Empiricism Problem?
Rachel Corbman is a doctoral candidate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Stony Brook University. Her dissertation, “Conferencing on the Edge: A Queer History of Feminist Field Formation, 1969 – 1989,” is a history of the acrimonious feminist conflicts over women’s studies and gay and lesbian studies in the 1970s and 1980s.