Queer melodramatics: The feeling body and the American democratic imagination
Keegan, Cael M.
MetadataShow full item record
Queer Melodramatics: The Feeling Body and the American Democratic Imagination seeks to locate and analyze the ways in which the rational, enfranchised democratic citizen-subject is produced through the generation and management of “feeling” bodies, which play a crucial role in the ongoing validation and maintenance of American democratic hegemony. This problematic is investigated through a focus on the visual representation of queerness as an experience of affect. Under American democracy, the queer body has been historically displayed as a body wracked by feeling: this study is an attempt to examine the ways in which this display is intimately involved in the production, and restriction, of American democratic life. Throughout American history, the experience of democracy has been translated into popular and consumable forms through a specifically American melodramatics. Queer Melodramatics thus seeks to provide instructive readings of America's struggle to rectify the problem of queerness through the analysis of melodramatic televisual and filmic texts representing the feeling queer body. Linking the emergence of popular melodrama to the revolutionary democracies of the 18th century, it proposes a reciprocal relationship between the creation of Western, democratic political space and the formation of melodramatic modes of public meaning. Finally, it argues that since the mid-20 th century, popular American melodrama has been explicitly directed toward the affective management of the queer body as it “troubles” American democratic life. The goal of the work is to explore how the melodramatic manipulation of the feeling queer body operates as an affective technology of democratic hegemony. My project traces how queerness is not simply antipathetic to the requirements of American citizenship, but operates as a key component in the process by which the prohibitive nature of these requirements is affectively produced, negotiated, defended, and preserved.