"Queer Literature: Naming and Identifying"
John Addington Symonds, a Victorian sexologist, during Walt Whitman’s final years asked Whitman multiple times if his poetry was about men who romantically desired other men. Whitman infamously responded that he sired six children but that didn’t stop Symonds from claiming Whitman as a homosexual poet. Andrew Rimby, who is a Ph.D. Candidate and Instructor in the English department at Stony Brook University, will use this anecdote as the opening for his talk which asks why Symonds turned to literature to define who and what belongs to the category of “homosexuality”? Another question he will address is where the state of Queer Literary Criticism is in 2020, and why do literary scholars return again and again to literature to name and identify queer bodies and spaces?