Cultural Studies, Queer Theory, Marxism

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Donald Morton


Postmodernism, Sexual Identity, Gender

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Queer theory is that section of cultural studies which is directly focused upon attempting to make theoretical sense of (homo)sexuality and of (homo)sexual desire. In its currently predominant, postmodern idealist form, queer theory is the quintessential post-textualist incarnation of ludic postmodern theory within cultural studies. This dissertation critiques postmodern idealist queer theory in order to establish the enabling theoretical condition of possibility for the development of an historical materialist alternative. Part one begins, in chapter one, with an exposition of the overall argument of the dissertation and an explanation of the marxist philosophical and the socialist political basis of this argument. Chapter two then provides a critical genealogy of preexisting manrist theory in this area, and chapter three follows by addressing both the difficulty and the necessity of carrying this work forward today--and tomorrow. Part two turns towards a close critical examination--by way of symptomatic reading--of predominant currents and major figures in contemporary queer theory, beginning in chapter four by locating contemporary queer theory in relation to the determinant impact of ludic postmodern and, in particular, classic poststructuralist theory upon the predominant form and direction of contemporary (appreciative/experiential) cultural studies. Chapter five then examines what is most often promoted as that which is distinctive about contemporary queer theory as radical cultural praxis by focusing upon the way in which queer theory has (re)conceived and (re)formulated the question of "identity," and, in particular, sexual and gender "identities." Finally, chapter six focuses upon a critique of the problems and limitations of the dominant current form(s) of contemporary queer theory in the two principal areas in which queerity has been expressly designed to exert a progressive political impact, "displacing" homophobia, and overcoming AIDS, concluding by rearticulating what is ultimately at stake in these two sites of struggle as seen from the vantage point of a critical examination of their place in relation to the broader political-ideological contestation for and against bourgeois hegemony within the global political economy of fin-de-siecle late capitalism.