Queering the Countryside Book Notes

Like most collected volumes, Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies (edited by Mary L. Gray, Colin R. Jonson, and Brian J. Gilley) rises and falls at various points. I think it makes its point that queer theory has largely been “metro-normative” and ignores those of us living in more sparsely populated areas. I live in a “city” of 19000 people and often feel safer here – perhaps for fairly unique reasons – as a trans woman than I do in more densely populated areas. I will point out two chapters:

Lucas Crawford, “Snorting the Powder of Life: Transgender Migration in the Land of Oz,” which is a queer critique of The Marvelous Land of Oz (MLO). If you haven’t read it, MLO has some trans-potential themes that largely get undermined. The main protagonist presents as male, but it turns out that “he” was born female, but turned male as something of a curse, and in the end is restored to female to become the rightful ruler of Oz. Baum is clear that the gender change at the end is a “restoration” of order and not a “transformation,” undermining much of its trans-ing potential.

Here’s the twist for me: I remember this story from when I was a kid. I remember going to a video store – back then we still just had VHS – and I loved the Oz stories after the original one. As a kid who was assigned male at birth and who always felt like I should’ve been a girl, seeing (in the frame of the story) a boy become a girl provided a visual expression of my deepest hopes and desires. While I am undergoing a bodily transformation, it does, at times, feel like I’m restoring something that was lost to me, or, better yet, denied to me. But this story loses its trans-ing in other terms, because it is a return to one’s birth gender.

Secondly, Stina Soderling, “Queer Rurality and the Materiality of Time,” really stood out to me, looking at how queer rural time varies from “Chrononormativity” AND from other queer theories of time based upon queer urban settings, in what rural queer studies folks call “metro normative” queer theory. Looking at the “Gayborhood” in rural Tennessee. Soderling postulates a series of colliding temporalities, but also the anti-capitalist clock-less rhythms and the “stickiness” of time (what I have started to call time dilations in my own work) – how time gets “stuck” and moves slower because there really is no rush for (re-)production, and retemporalization back into seasonal rhythms.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: