What is Queer Theory?

To ask the question “what is queer theory?” is a gesture that can easily invite frustration, for by asking it we request a definition for something that, by definition, resists definition. It is a regular refrain of those who engage with “queer theory” that it is indefinable, and that, furthermore, this indefinable nature is one of its strengths. As McCann and Monaghan suggest, “[t]he insistence on indefinability hints at queer theory as a lens that emphasizes the slipperiness of meaning and the transgression of categorizes and boundaries.”1 By resisting definition, queer theory enacts its own insight regarding how labels, concepts, and categories can stagnate, ossify, and, in turn, enslave us.

Queer theorists have therefore generally been more interested not in defining what queer theory is but rather forging a path for what it does or is capable of doing. This tendency

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