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Fictionalizing the World

Rethinking the Politics of Literature

Edited By Louisa Söllner and Anita Vržina

The book offers ten essays which explore the interaction between literature and politics. The authors investigate a variety of genres including young-adult fiction, national poetry, novels, autobiography, and performance art from different time periods ranging from the 18 th up to the 21 st century from the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Grouped in three sections, the essays focus on the relationship between fiction and identity; the creation of spaces of/in fiction; and the interplay of irony and fiction. They reveal that fiction has a fundamental potential not only to react to but also to affect and shape the world. This offers a possibility to negotiate and re-imagine the ways in which we perceive the world and position ourselves within it.
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Vulnerable Fictions: Queer Youth, Storytelling, and Narratives of Victimization

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Abstract

This essay puts theoretical writing on youth, sexuality, and queer pedagogy into conversation with Francesca Lia Block’s novels Weetzie Bat and Baby Be-Bop. Moving away from narratives of victimization, I propose a theory of “storying” that foregrounds how the terms of self-reference used by queer youth are established through stories told by others.

“What were you going to tell me?” Weetzie asked. “I’m gay,” Dirk said. “Who, what, when, where, how – well, not how,” Weetzie said. “It doesn’t matter one bit, honey-honey,” she said, giving him a hug. Dirk took a swig of his drink. “But you know I’ll always love you the best and think you are a beautiful, sexy girl,” he said. “Now we can Duck hunt together,” Weetzie said, taking his hand. (Block 7)

Certain popular conceptions of queer youth would have us believe that coming out is never as smooth a process as portrayed here for Dirk, a teenaged character in Francesca Lia Block’s young adult novel Weetzie Bat. In many accounts of queer youth experience, living outside the heteronormative mainstream can only culminate in harassment, bullying, and in extreme cases, lethal violence. “Are we all truly Matthew Shepard?” Eric Rofes asks in an essay that explores the pervasive “Martyr-Target-Victim” narrative – which depicts queer youth as the inevitable victims of homophobic violence – and its central role in popular conceptions of queer youth (42). Troubled by the notion that queer youth seem defined by their potential victimization, Rofes...

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