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Queer being and the sexual interstice: A phenomenological approach to the queer transformative self

Horncastle, Julia (2008) Queer being and the sexual interstice: A phenomenological approach to the queer transformative self. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis explores a notion of “queer being” in relation to a difficult yet creative articulation of queer self-consciousness. The difficulty of attempting to “particularise” self-consciousness is challenged and dismantled by proposing ways in which putatively exclusive esoteric knowledges of being can be exposed and expanded. This is achieved by justifying singular (queer) experience as it coincides with the disparities between subjectivity and objectivity, experience and existence. I argue that two key perspectives (those of interstitiality and self-transformativity) provide a basis whereby we can “force” a radical articulation of queer being-ness into general and contemporary philosophical discourses of being. In doing so, a particularised theory of intersubjective being emerges as a way to identify the complicity of ethics and ontology.

“Queerness” in this thesis is especially articulated as an eccentricity or poetics of being, experienced at the juncture of diverse knowledge spaces. These include not only the threshold and radical spaces of sexuality and gender, but also the perceived limits of theories of being which allow us to formulate understandings of self-consciousness. This is evidenced through a critical analysis of feminist, queer, transgender, phenomenological and existential texts and/or practices, paying special regard to “everyday, real-life” experience. By using a combination of the “logic of the interstice”, genealogical methods, hermeneutical analysis and a deconstructionist theoretical approach, the thesis seeks out, and insists upon, ways to articulate and determine the possibility of a queer sensibility as both a practice of self-transformativity and a more broadly applicable knowledge heuristic.

The thesis demonstrates that by increasing an awareness of a particular kind of self-transformative queer being-ness – one that embraces a critical ethics of being – the rich insights of queer experiences and knowledges can act as a valuable resource for reviewing the horizons of the ontology of the subject. It also suggests that particularising the term “queer” in relation to a complex theory of “sensibility” provides new depths for understanding, and practical ways to make use of, a queer theory of being.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Supervisor(s): Thiele, Beverly
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