4 November 2011

Book: Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds

As proponents of queer theory increasingly suggest varying approaches to and trajectories for queer critique, from vitalism and affective studies to non-futurity and lateral movements, Elizabeth Freeman adds a thought-provoking new text into the mix with Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories, published by Duke University Press in 2010 as part of the Perverse Modernities series edited by Judith Halberstam and Lisa Lowe.

Analysing a selection of North American independent films and performance artists, and novels The Lover by Bertha Harris, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Virginia Woolf's Orlando, Freeman seeks to re-interrogate the narratives of time which condition and "bind up" knowledge of the normative body. Being out of the synchronised beat of social time, corporeal anachronism and expressing a bricolage of identifiable times upon the body opens the possibility of a queer chronopolitics. Freeman accesses this potential through "erotohistoriographical" analysis, tracing the knots and tangles of historical time in the examination of erotics and their accompanying bodily acts, and exploring the ways in which these erotics might deny, frustrate or introduce other unstable temporal encodings upon the knowledges working on/as the body.
"Bodies, then, are not only mediated by signs; they come to 'matter' through kinetic and sensory forms of normativity, modes of belonging that make themselves felt as a barely acknowledged relief to those who fit in, while the experience [of] not fitting in often feels both like having the wrong body and like living in a different time zone. ... [U]nbinding time and/from history means recognizing how erotic relations and the bodily acts that sustain them gum up the works of the normative structures we call family and nation, gender, race, class, and sexual identity, by changing tempos, by remixing memory and desire, by recapturing excess."

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