Epistemology of the Closet
Epistemology of the Closet is a book published in 1990 by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, who is considered one of the founders of queer studies. In Epistemology of the Closet, Sedgwick argues that standard binary oppositions limit freedom and understanding, especially in the context of sexuality. Sedgwick argues that limiting sexuality to homosexuality or heterosexuality, in a structured binary opposition, is just too simplistic.Epistemology of the Closet attacks the question of what makes up human sexuality. The basis for the answer to this question comes from Sedgwick's understanding and examination of queer theory, which she describes for her readers.
According to Sedgwick, the central thesis of the book is that "virtually any aspect of modern Western culture, must be, not merely incomplete, but damaged in its central substance to the degree that it does not incorporate a critical analysis of modern homo/heterosexual definition."
In the book, Sedgwick analyzes a late nineteenth century historical moment in which sexual orientation became as important a definer of personal identity as gender had been for centuries. In her preface, Sedgwick examines the book both personally and historically, as she analyzes the first wave of the AIDS epidemic and its influence on the text. Through this and various other examples, Sedgwick reveals that several sexual contradictions result in modern misunderstanding. The book also largely focuses on language's impact on sexuality, and how labeled speech acts are ultimately the proof of the nature of one’s sexuality.
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