: CFP for Special Issue on Queer and Trans* Literacies

LiCS Special Issue on Queer and Trans* Literacies

Editors: Zarah C. Moeggenberg, Wilfredo Flores, and Collin Craig

In Jacqueline Rhodes’s plenary talk at the 2018 Watson Conference, she concludes by interrogating the viability of queer theory as an apparatus for examining queer living, being, and surviving in today’s cultural moment. Rhodes leaves the audience with a final question that doubly works as proclamation and interrogation: “But people are still dying, so what are we really doing?”

Rhodes’ question calls attention to the ongoing, unchecked forms of discursive and physical violence imposed on trans bodies and communities—all while we loyally continue to affirm queer theory’s restorative, revolutionary and transformative impact. Such a question crystallizes how heteronormative white supremacist capitalist patriarchy disproportionately injures queer folks of color as they struggle to achieve legibility within and across their communities. Such a question witnesses the material, bodily and neurotypical ways with which disabled LGBTQ+ folk are normed. Such a question invokes the freedom struggle articulated by two-spirit voices that are silenced by settler colonial projects that intentionally regulate, replace or flatten indigenous identities. So what are we really doing?

This CFP considers this question: What literacies do queer and trans* people leverage for survival and knowledge production when our current queer theoretical paradigms are not enough?

We invite pieces that make citation practices toward what Karma Chávez calls coalition building. Foremost, following the retraction of the initial CFP, we moved to reframe an intellectual trajectory of queer literacy in a way that accounts for perspectives from queer scholars of color, disability studies, trans* identities, and working class identities. While we endeavor to center and engage intersectional queer literacy repertoires as theoretical, decolonizing, and necessary within/as LGBTQ+ rhetoric, we also invite allies and co-conspirators to contribute projects that speak to how we might expand theories, methodologies, and pedagogies of queer literacy within and beyond the academy.

We see this special issue as an opportunity to ask the questions our field has needed to ask for more than 20 years. What queer literacies ensure persistence, community, or survival? What literacy practices do LGBTQ+ people develop, cultivate, sustain, undo, unbecome, or fail at to ensure themselves and others that they can live in this world? As Collin Craig asks, when Black queer people have their lives and “bodies thrusted into public spheres—spectacularized, miscarried, murdered, and scrutinized—how do they learn to speak back to, in, and between languages, texts, and marginalizing belief systems that shape the geographies they navigate” (636)?

If literacy normativity, as Eric Pritchard writes, is “used in the service of normative hegemony” and creates discourses that “condemn people for their identities and other ways of beings” (28), what queer and trans* literacies are we overlooking within and beyond our field? To be clear, we do not seek to fill this oversight simply to contribute to what Yasmin Nair and GPat and Leland Spencer have shown to be the university’s neoliberal diversity agenda. Rather, we seek work that breaks those inclusionary rhetorics and practices down.

We seek work that dismantles, brick by brick, the whiteness that is academia, what Sara Ahmed says when she calls on us to reflect about the politics of our citational practices (Living a Feminist Life, On Being Included). We seek work that centers the intersectional identities of queer folks, cites people of color, and is for the future of the broad transformative spectrum of raced, classed, disabled, sexed, and indigenous modes and literacies used for rhetorical action and world making. Put another way, we seek work that gets at what José Muñoz calls the “‘not-yet’ where queer youths of color actually get to grow up” (Muñoz, Cruising Utopia, 96). We seek scholarship that will also challenge the “colonial imaginary” (6) in the way that Qwo-li Driskill does by weaving material from multiple sources to retell Cherokee history through asegi stories, a two-spirit strategy to interrupt “heteropatriarchal colonial narratives” (44).

We seek work that celebrates and theorizes trans* literacies, that takes up Gayle Solomon’s assertion that the transgender body is not reducible to the material but we tend to treat sex as material property in medical and state bureaucracies (8). Using trans* theory, V. Jo Hsu has written that the “nuanced exploration of how bodies organize around, complicate, repurpose, and reinvent identity categories...has much to offer rhetorics’ disciplinary fascination with (and many experiences of) border-crossings” (n.p.). They add that “trans activisms envision vastly more supportive and inclusive social structures to fill that space” (n.p.), which motivates us to engage more trans* theory in our methods and literacy practices.

We seek to elevate the queer literacy practices we have overlooked, silenced, erased, and colonized. In this special issue of Literacy in Composition Studies, we call upon other LGBTQ+ scholars and accomplices to challenge what we know about queer literacy. Questions of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What are queer and trans* literacies? How do they manifest? What work do they do in classrooms, in writing centers, in communities, in writing publics, and within or as part of ourselves?
  • What are queer and trans* literacy pedagogies? How do they create spaces of inclusivity, inquiry, and belonging for queer and trans* students?
  • How does embodiment relate to queer and trans* literacies? In what ways is the material body implicated in queer and trans* literacies?
  • In response to Rhodes, if queer theory has “died a little death,” how do we finally account for the literacies of queer Black folks and other people of color who have often been neglected in queer theory writ large?
  • Yergeau writes, “To author austistically is to author queerly and contrarily” (6). Discussing rhetoric as for the “able-bodied,” Dolmage remarks that the body’s subservience to rhetoric “is mostly about silence,” subtext, denial, and misdirection (84). How do critical queer literacies intersect with and inform disability literacies, especially as we think about Black, indigenous, and other queer people of color?
  • As Craig has asked, cited above, how do Black people and other people of color “learn to speak back to, in, and between languages, texts, and marginalizing belief systems that shape the geographies they navigate”?
  • What are the literacy practices that can take us to the “‘not-yet’ where queer youths of color actually get to grow up” that Muñoz writes about as mentioned above?
  • How do we implement decolonization (Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor”) into our literacy practices by foregrounding land? How are queer uses of land integral to coalition building between queer people and indigenous peoples?
  • How might we consider citational practices as a form of queer/feminist literacy? As queer literacy practices and histories and rhetorics are bound to privilege, to which working class queer literacies may our field more readily attend? What queer and trans* literacies have we overlooked, silenced, and erased?


Proposals Due September 15, 2019 to queerlics@gmail.com

Full Manuscripts due February 1, 2020

Revision Feedback sent to Authors June 15, 2020

Revisions Due August 15, 2020

Expected Publication November 2021 (Tentative)





ISSN: 2326-5620