Reliving the Past, Regarding the Future: Tracing Critical Hope in Queer and Kinky Performance
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This thesis analyzes critical hope, a concept derived from critical pedagogy studies, as a queer way of re-configuring temporality through working with queer and kinky performance. Firstly, I argue that queer theories of temporality do not address negative affect sufficiently, and that queer notions of futurity fail to account for the role of the past and the present in these imaginations. Through emphasizing the ways in which the past persists into the present, I argue for critical hope as a necessary intervention and a fruitful modality of hoping for marginalized groups that are denied both an imaginary of a future as well as an awareness of their past. Through working with Bob Flanagan’s artwork, a kinky disabled artist, and Not Fabulous, a queer performance piece, I argue for the necessity of understanding the ways in which the past continues to persist in the present for people with disabilities and queer and trans people of color. Within these case studies, I focus on the role of desire and shame in their re-configurations of temporality and hope. I take shame as a critically hopeful affect as it highlights the systems of oppression that continue to shame certain subjectivities for their sexual desire, and I investigate the ways in which Bob Flanagan and the performers of Not Fabulous portray and re-enact desire in their performances and artwork as a way to work through this shame, eventually leaving space for ecstasy, hope and community. By using affect theory, queer theory and psychoanalytic theory, I finally argue for critical hope’s transformative potential as it is not only able to construct a modality of hoping that is profoundly aware of systems of oppression, but also to encourage a creative imagination of a – queer – world that is not-yet-here.