Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Collaborative Interview in Shelf Unbound

The latest issue of Shelf Unbound focuses on the theme of collaboration, and features Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat in his studio, 1985. Photograph © Lizzie Himmel
I'm honored to be included in this issue. Publisher (and fellow Orphan Black fanatic) Margaret Brown 

interviewed me and Kelly Magee about the process of collaborating on With Animal, our forthcoming short story collection (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). I'm so excited to share this book with my readers. Writing it was pure pleasure, and I hope reading it will be pure pleasure, too. 
Cover art: Todd Horton

Thursday, May 7, 2015

New Short Fiction in Hawaii Pacific Review

Here's a new collaborative short story, co-written with Elizabeth J. Colen. Titled "True Ash," it's online in Hawaii Pacific Review. Such an honor to be in this excellent journal! "True Ash" is part of a larger collection called Your Sick, co-written with both Elizabeth J. Colen and Kelly Magee. The manuscript was just picked up; we'll have an announcement very soon about the publisher and timeline. Enjoy!
SpringTrail_byArleneRubin
Oh, and I'm obsessed with Etgar Keret's excellent short stories right now. I'd discovered him years ago, then let the discovery fall away, and was reminded to read him recently by one of my (amazing) graduate students. The strangeness of his work seems sane to me, and gives me a feeling: tiny bubbles of hope.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Forthcoming seminar on Butch/Femme Literature

I'm excited to be teaching a new Queer Studies class in Fall 2015 here at Western Washington University. Advice/ideas/inspiration welcome! Thanks to Ann Tweedy and Greg Youmans for feedback on this course description. It's a work in progress, and I expect the class to reflect the challenge of talking about identities that are grounded in history, but shifting and changing even as we speak. My main concern is to do justice to the specificity of American butch/femme lesbian history, while simultaneously appreciating and engaging with the abundance of gender identities/gendered  experiences a new generation has learned to recognize and embrace. Also, I love this new photography project by artist Wendi Kali: The Butch/Femme Photo Project. 

Photo: Wendi Kali, "Frances and partner (and fur kids)"

Butch/Femme: Exploring a Lesbian Subculture Through Literature
  
            We’re here, we’re queer, but how did we get here?
            Since its publication in 1990, Judith Butler’s essay “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” has set the stage for complex discussions of gender performance. Academics have embraced images of drag queens in films like Paris is Burning, while simultaneously expanding the definition of “gender trouble” to include mainstream reflections on personal style. The movement from bar culture to Stonewall to ACT UP to academic discourse to assimilation invites the question: what lived subcultures within the LGBT movement created the conditions for a consideration of gender and its relation to sex and sexuality?
            Lesbian butch/femme culture is just one of those subcultures. This course will begin by setting the practice in an historical context. We’ll examine first wave butch/femme bar culture and clubs, second wave feminism, and the clash of cultures that exploded in the lesbian sex wars of the early 1980’s. Second wave butch/femme, the impact of ACT UP and the Lesbian Avengers, and the rise of the transgender rights movement will bring us to the date of Butler’s essay, which marks a productive proliferation of discourse on gender, even as LGBT social activism narrowed its focus to the assimilationist goals of marriage, monogamy, and military service. The course will end with an examination of Nancy Burkholder’s ejection from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in 1991 and Donna Minkowitz’s 1994 coverage of the murder of Brandon Teena, incidents whose history of debates serve as a useful field for examining the clash between second and third wave feminist ideologies, and between cisgender and transgender identifications.
            Although some familiarity with Queer Studies would be useful, all students are welcome in this class. Students will write numerous short response essays, as well as one long research paper or creative project. 

Texts:
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman
Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme edited by Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
Women in the Shadows by Ann Bannon
Zami  by Audre Lorde

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New work in The Mondegreen

Issue 2 of The Mondegreen lives here, and it's full of fabulous writing. I've got a new single-author story, "Ash," that's part of a larger collaborative project -- big announcement coming very soon! Think short stories. Think jellyfish. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, Kate McKinnon's Justin Bieber imitation (transformation? improvement?) made my day. I'm mulling over a new Queer Studies class for next year. This definitely seems like a good starting point for a course on butch/femme lesbian culture, past and present, all tangled up in overlapping paradigms of queer female gender and sexual styles. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Genre and the Queer Imagination

I'm excited to teach a graduate class this quarter. Western Washington University has a new MFA program in Creative Writing with an emphasis on hybrid genres. 

My work blurs boundaries because I find pleasure in movement, in change, in mutability. If I believed in a god, it would take the form of an animal, and its name would be Imagination. What a gift to be able to fantasize, invent, daydream. There's nothing childish about this play, nothing conventional about this pleasure. Imagination is the ultimate threat to authority. It's the basis of activism, social change, art, and love.

***

English 506: Multigenre Writing 
Genre and the Queer Imagination

In this writing workshop, we'll read and imitate texts by contemporary American queer writers whose work challenges assimilationist paradigms of GLBT identity. Our starting point will be The Gentrification of the Mind, Sarah Schulman's nonfiction account of the gentrification of the queer imagination. Literary texts include Cool for You (Eileen Myles), Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic (Eva Heisler), The Rest of Love (Carl Phillips), and The Spectral Wilderness (Oliver Bendorf). Students will write short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry pieces for weekly workshops. The final project will be a collection of hybrid pieces organized into a chapbook or single long piece.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm the luckiest teacher

Such a wonderful English 202 class! Thanks for a great quarter and crazy chair sculptures!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pre-Order With Animal

My new book With Animal is now available for pre-order! Co-written with Kelly Magee, this short story collection will be released by Black Lawrence Press in May 2015, featuring cover art by Todd Horton and book design by Amy FreelsYou can pre-order the book directly from the publisher right here right now. I'm happy to send a comp copy if you plan to review or teach the book. Kelly and I are available for interviews and classroom visits via email, phone, or Skype. We hope our feral creature pleases you. 

Todd Horton "Together"
Hybrid twins: one human, one horse. A man pregnant with a kangaroo, a woman raising a baby dragon. A twenty-first century Virgin Mary reimagined as a queer single mother giving birth in a petting zoo. In this collaborative short story collection, Carol Guess and Kelly Magee magically and playfully subvert assumptions about gender, sexuality, parenting, and family. These lyrical fictions bare teeth and spare no claw. They’ll leave you questioning the lines between human and animal, parent and child, love and dominion.