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Polish Queer Modernism


Piotr Sobolczyk

This book is a study of twentieth century Polish literature in the contexts of queer theory, psychoanalysis and modernism studies. It presents readings of well-known authors such as Witold Gombrowicz or of authors gaining international fame such as Miron Białoszewski, as well as essays on other important, but less known Polish writers. The book also offers theoretical ideas relevant outside the Polish context: the idea of «homoinfluence», the «enigmatic signifier» and its role in «paranoid cultures», the overlapping of Jewishness and queer, the discussion of queer fables for children, or the new approach to the idea of «camp» and its relation to commodity fetishism.
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Chapter One: Sexual Fingerprint Queer Diaries and Autobiography


Queer theory in an attempt to challenge the notions of sexual orientation based on gender-choice understood as genital difference, according to some scholars at least, returned to Magnus Hirschfeld’s writings from early XXth century, to adopt and reshape in particular the idea that everyone has a different sexuality. Using Ernst Haeckel’s version of Darwinist theory, Hirschfeld as far as in 1905 stated that sexuality is not connected solely to the genitals, i.e. the so called “primary sexual characteristics”, but also to the “secondary”, and “tertiary”, so that all body parts and also habitus understood as comportment and bodily constitution, had sexual significance.13 Several years later, in 1918, he stated that there was absolutely no such thing as two individuals identical in their sexuality.14 Later Hirschfeld would precise that to the average eye such subtle nuances and differences might not be fully detectable. Comparing sexual idiosyncrasy to fingerprints, he created the concept of “sexual fingerprints”, that might seem similar to an untrained eye, yet perceivable in subtle examination.15 For contemporary queer theory this concept proved to be productive a metaphor because it questioned the idea of sexual orientation as a stable category and blurred the distinctions between the arbitrary object-choice as a primary sexual drive and various “perversions”, such as fetishism or S/M, and other deeply personal practices or rituals (even the way one courts, smiles etc.), as “secondary”.16 But the consequence of this for me and some other queer scholars, such as e.g. Donald E. Hall, who...

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