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Open Access Publications from the University of California

"The Great Soup of Being": Autotheory & Intersectionality in Cherríe Moraga's Loving in the War Years and Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts

  • Author(s): Fieldman, Claire
  • Advisor(s): Lopez, Marissa
  • et al.

This thesis asks the following question: why is fluid form appropriate and even necessary in intersectional feminist narrative – and how does such form reflect changing politics of feminism and of theory? I will extrapolate from two hybrid works by two unique intersectional feminists, Cherríe Moraga’s Loving in the War Years (1982) and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015), to explore this relationship between form and politics, or the ‘autotheoretical’ and the political. These works, though written in their disparate personal and political contexts, share a number of formal similarities and an investment in “queering” or reconstituting gender, sexuality, and domesticity. Accordingly, I map the paradigm shifts in form, content, and politics in which Moraga and Nelson participate in each of the three major sections of this thesis. I situate the two works against a theoretical background that includes José Esteban Muñoz’s Disidentifications and Grace Kyungown Hong and Roderick A. Ferguson’s Strange Affinities. Ultimately, I argue that Moraga and Nelson find a shared critical energy that proves significant not in spite of difference but because of it and that this energy anticipates a future with more fluid understandings of both genre and identity.

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