Situating itself in the crosshairs of critical whiteness studies, queer studies, and Black studies, this essay considers the literary production of the (poor) white trash subject in the intersection of two moments of racial upheaval—the civil rights era of the US South and the “focus on the family” during the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s—in which whiteness was under siege. Taking its cue from Toni Morrison's articulation of the white imaginary and W. E. B. Du Bois's history of the (Black) and white working class, this article looks at representations of queerness in Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina to (1) understand the ways in which poor whiteness solidifies through queer moments of “bad” sex; and (2) reveal the ways in which “bad sex” retards white subjectivity/progressivity.

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