Queer Velocities: Time, Sex, and Biopower on the Early Modern Stage

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Queer Velocities: Time, Sex, and Biopower on the Early Modern Stage explores how seventeenth-century French theater represents queer desire. In this book, the first queer theoretical treatment of canonical French theater, Jennifer Eun-Jung Row proposes that these velocities, moments of unseemly haste or strategic delay, sparked new kinds of attachments, intimacies, and erotics. Rather than rely on fixed identities or analog categories, we might turn to these affectively saturated moments of temporal sensation to analyze queerness in the premodern world. The twin innovations of precise, portable timepieces and the development of the theater as a state institution together ignited new types of embodiments, orderly and disorderly pleasures, and normative and wayward rhythms of life. Row leverages a painstakingly formalist and rhetorical analysis of tragedies by Jean Racine and Pierre Corneille to show how the staging of delay or haste can critically interrupt the normative temporalities of marriage, motherhood, mourning, or sovereignty—the quotidian rhythms and paradigms so necessary for the biopolitical management of life. Row's approach builds on the queer turn to temporality and Elizabeth Freeman's notion of the chronobiopolitical to wager that queerness can also be fostered by the sensations of disruptive speed and slowness. Ultimately Row suggests that the theater not only contributed to the glitter of Louis XIV's absolutist spectacle but also ignited new forms of knowing and feeling time, as well as new modes of loving, living, and being together.

This book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem)—a collaboration of the Association of American Universities, the Association of University Presses, and the Association of Research Libraries—and the generous support of the University of Minnesota. Learn more at the TOME website, available at

Last modified
  • 06/08/2022
Alternate Identifier
  • Cloth ISBN 978-0-8101-4471-2
  • Paper ISBN 978-0-8101-4470-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-0-8101-4472-9
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