Offering a queer reading of Gravity’s Rainbow, this project reevaluates the sexual politics and narrative poetics at work in Thomas Pynchon’s paradigmatic postmodernist novel. Moving beyond a thematic reading of sexuality, the article articulates the unacknowledged theoretical similarities between postmodernist ontological instability and queer resistances to teleology. Building on the theoretical work of Brian McHale and Lee Edelman, I argue that Pynchon’s representations of sadomasochism in Gravity’s Rainbow become a destabilizing narrative force that queers Pynchon’s poetics. With a focus on Margherita Erdmann’s sexual practice, this revisionary reading of gender and female sexuality in Pynchon complicates previous criticism, which has largely condemned the heteromasculinity of high postmodernism and elided the power of female sexual agency in such texts.
Research Article|June 01 2017
Queer Postmodern Practices: Sex and Narrative in Gravity’s Rainbow
Marie Franco is a doctoral candidate in English at the Ohio State University. Her dissertation examines relations among explicit representations of sex in American postmodern fiction, queer erotica, and post-WWII sexual subcultures.
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Twentieth-Century Literature (2017) 63 (2): 141-166.