What is Queer Theory?

Hello dear readers!

I have had a few questions recently about some of the terms that we use here often at Looking For Pemberley. Although many of the terms that I use range from academic to very informal, made-up words, there area  few that I think you should know about when you are reading posts here. I don’t want anyone to feel left out.

So, I’ve decided that I will start a “definitions” post series, so you can familiarize yourself with some potentially unfamiliar terms.

In the future, look under the “defined” category to find the posts in this vein.

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Let’s start with the term Queer Theory, as I have had a few questions about that.

For many people who grew up when the word “queer” was pejorative, this term may seem a little alarming. Really, queer is not a bad word.

Queer theory came out of gender studies, which derived from feminism, and is used as a lens or framework to view different media or texts, such as works of art or books, for example.

It is a type of theory that challenges binary constructions like “male” and ‘female,” but is not at all limited to gender. One of the reasons many people may be confused about what queer theory actually is, is because it has so many applications. Scholars and others often use the ideas from “queer theorists” such as Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam and Chandan Reddy (as mentioned previously here) to understand and question any given text, ideology, simplistic construction, or social situation.

Queer theory can be a very freeing tool, and remains politically important, because it also allows for personal identity to fluctuate, and resists definition of who we are as people, what makes us the way we are, and what we can or should prescribe to.

I myself am very interested in queer theory and studied it in school, so if you have questions about it, feel free to continue asking!

Also, if you have anything to add, please pitch in through the comment section or e-mail me from the “about” page! I would love to hear your personal definitions.

I also have some resources that I think will help you understand the purpose and goals of Queer Theory listed below that might help.

Queer Theory

Theory Org

Queer by Choice link database

GLBTQ

Have a great weekend!

Miss E

Is English Relevant?

As a former English major myself and obviously very attached to the field of English, I am always interested in discourses surrounding it.

One conversation that was brought up often among colleagues in the humanities was about defending the significance or social importance of a liberal arts education, a humanities education, and the English major particularly.

After working in a business setting since graduation, and doing freelance work on the side, I have realized that there are many more options out there than I had previously considered.

English majors out there and graduate students in the humanities- chin up, because guess what? Despite not having a direct career path after graduation laid out for us during college, our skill set (analyzing, summarizing, presenting, writing, editing, using imagination and innovation to come up with new ideas, and critical thinking) are actually very competitive skills to have.  Let’s start seeing the forest for the tress in regards to this topic, shall we?

Forest for the Trees! ; -)

A very dear friend reminded me of this when I was applying for jobs this summer, which is one of the reasons I started working at my company. I just wanted to share a few sites that I have found in my daily internet browsing which I found helpful or at the very least interesting to read.

For English Majors– Susan, the blogger for this site, seems dedicated to making sure that English majors continue to understand their own worth in our capitalist job market.

4Humanities– The team of educators at 4 Humanities advocate for the relevancy of Humanities and liberal arts educations, and propose that Humanities educations are much needed in our society.

Sell Out Your Soul– Yes. This blog is aggressive, as the title would suggest. While I don’t necessarily agree with the title, I think this writer brings up many interesting points. This site is specifically geared for grad students in English and people who really think critically about the graduate school rhetoric of a narrow focus and hopeless job prospects. It may cheer you up; it may depress you, but it is interesting.

All of these sites discuss job prospects for students in the Humanities, whether at a college or graduate level, and even though they take different angles, they show the “worth” of the skills that come with an education in English.

Hope you enjoy your reading material, and let me know what you think.

Cheers,

Miss E

The “Best” Way to Say Goodbye

“Best?”

I have been thinking about something often lately. If I’m honest, it’s something pretty dorky and academic, although as you may have noticed, looking for pemberley supports both of those things. This post has nothing to do with my current or previous research, thesis, or the research of my friends and former colleagues that I am aware of, although if one of you rhetoric folks is reading and would like to speak up about this, I would love it.

For some reason I am endlessly fascinated by e-mail closings. I currently work in an office setting, and sometimes I send out e-mails to various contacts all day. My go-to e-mail closing, instead of sincerely or regards, etc. is “Best.”

Even though I have signed my e-mails with this closing for around 3 years now, I never thought I would adopt “Best” or become so attached to it as quickly as I have. There are unique and interesting ways to sign letters and e-mails, but best is a popular closing in academia. It is short, sweet, and somewhat formal, and has a nod to the closing “All the best,” but with less effort. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is an example of what I mean by “Best” –

“Best,

[Insert Name]”

I like the closing now, but it has taken me a few years of exposure to warm up to it. I had a professor in undergrad who signed their name with “Best,” but this professor’s name also began with a B, so it was alliterative. However, a couple of years into college, I realized that more and more profs were ending their e-mails this way, and it drove me nuts after a while. I really thought they were all copying my first professor who did it, until I got to grad school. Then I realized that a lot people sign using “Best,” and I began to see the appeal of it in my own e-mails, despite being frustrated that I couldn’t come up with something more creative.

It was after I have re-entered the 9-5 working world, and have continued to sign my e-mails with “Best,” that I have realized not many people outside of the academe sign their e-mails this way. Common closings I see at work include:

No Transition Word:

[end of message text.]

[Insert Name Here]

Formal:

“Sincerely,

[Insert Name Here]”

 “Warmest Regards,

[Insert Name Here]”

Emphatic:

“Thank you!

[Insert Name Here]”

“Cheers!

[Insert Name Here]”

You get the idea. There are various e-mail closings, and people choose their closing for different reasons depending on the e-mail, the message, and the audience. Each closing is a specific rhetorical choice, but I feel like “Best,” more so than other closings, could be considered a rhetorical move that signifies busy but still professional, casual but still fairly traditional, and generally an academic.

I may be reading into this a little too much, but I have yet to get an independent e-mail or first response e-mail in my inbox at work from a non-academic that closes with “Best.” On the other hand, most of the e-mails I receive from other academics – although not all academics sign with the same closing of course -usually do seem to end with “Best.” When I use it, I do feel like I am marking myself as an academic, and that I specifically use it to enter academic conversations. What do you guys think?

Best,

Miss E