Book Progress Report – Week 1

2 Dec

This week I mostly did reading for the Style chapter (had to do a few library runs, to Bobst and the New School). It’s mostly stuff about queer dress and performance (Garber’s Vested Interests; Moore’s “Lipstick or Timberlands”; Faderman’s “The Return of Butch and Femme”; skimming lots of other things), so it’s been easy to get distracted thinking about the course I’m teaching next semester (Queer Identity and Popular Culture). I vowed to stop adding readings for that class, but it’s been hard.

Also been reading Bourdieu on symbolic power (Language and Symbolic Power; “Social Space and Symbolic Power”; “What Makes a Social Class”, thinking about cultural capital and subcultural capital, anarchist habitus (if there is such a thing), and class formation/politics. Been hard to not think about “the 99 percent” while reading the Bourdieu. Have to keep straight in my head that Occupy Wall Street is not equivalent to the anarchists my book is about, though the connections are obviously striking.

I’ve wanted to make connections in this Style chapter to the politics of visibility/representation. I think they’re there and could be interestingly made, but I’m afraid I’m not immersed in the feminist literature on this enough anymore to say anything really substantive. I’m going to go through the notes I have on my computer and see if I can turn anything up, but I really just cannot do new (re)reading about this right now, it’s too big. Also, I don’t want to go too far down the post-structuralist philosophy rabbit hole – it just doesn’t work with this project in a way that feels handle-able for the purposes of this book.

Read Richard Johnson’s “What is Cultural Studies Anyway?” article for the first time (how I made it through a PhD in cultural studies without reading this is unclear to me, though maybe i did read it and have just forgotten at this point). It’ll be very useful, for this chapter and for the book as a whole, but I am sort of happy to see that I basically had enough of a grip on the communication theory I want to use, just from encoding/decoding (Hall) and circuit of culture (du gay, et al). (So maybe that’s how I made it through the PhD… ha. Mental note made to assign it if I ever teach a specifically cultural studies themed course though.)

Also read a bit more of Goffman. I haven’t done any sustained reading of Goffman (I feel like), but I’m finding that I don’t really need to in order to use him the way I need to in this book. He’s not that complex. Though maybe I’m just totally missing something. I’m not going to stress about this though.

I need to stop reading and just write. This chapter will be good enough without reading more (or at least that’s what I have to keep repeating to myself). (Has anyone ever repurposed the Stuart Smalley mantra for their book project? My book will be good enough, it will be smart enough, and people will like it!) Next week I hope to report that I’ve made some actual words-on-paper progress.


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