Anachrony, Disability, and the Gay Man

  • Per Esben Myren-Svelstad
Keywords: Nini Roll Anker, Magnhild Haalke, crip theory, queer theory, queer temporality, psychoanalysis, social hygiene

Abstract

A recent addition to critical theory are works of “crip theory” that seek to analyze the cultural construction of disability. It often draws on insights formulated by queer theory, demonstrated by the very use of the derogatory word crip, echoing the subversive use of, for example, queer. e intersectional appeal of crip theory is clear in Alison Kafer’s Feminist, Queer, Crip (2013), which also employs the concept of queer temporality. How might crip theory and queer temporality jointly contribute to queer – and queering – readings? This article offers a comparative reading of two Norwegian novels that have yet to be explored in terms of their adherence to a queer literary tradition. The first, Nini Roll Anker’s Enken [The Widow] (1932) portrays the homosexual son of the main character as immature and decadent. When his “perversity” is discovered, he falls ill and dies, the mandatory ending of early ctional representations of homosexuality. e second novel, Magnhild Haalke’s Allis sønn [Alli’s Son] (1935), makes no explicit mention of homosexuality. However, the eponymous son is a problem child assigned the stereotypical characteristics of the homosexual: physically feeble but mentally alert; creative and artistic, but also eerily different in his community of Norwegian fishermen and farmers. Both works were published in the 1930s, when psychoanalysis emphatically entered Norwegian public debate, and public health became a central topic. Authorities felt and expressed the need to protect society from the spread of homosexuality. Understood as a potentially contagious disease grounded in a developmental error in childhood (cf., Freud 1925), it was a threat to future na- tional well-being. While overlapping with the idea of disability, homosexuality is thus also intimately connected to time, a “modern” problem menacing the future. Hence, this article will attempt to show how the novels in question engage differently with ideas of disability, normative time, and the hopeful futurity associated with the child. In this way, it will also aim to show the utility of crip theory and queer temporality in gay and lesbian literary studies.

 

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Published
2018-10-15
How to Cite
Myren-Svelstad, P. E. (2018). Anachrony, Disability, and the Gay Man. Lambda Nordica, 23(1-2), 62-84. Retrieved from https://www.lambdanordica.org/index.php/lambdanordica/article/view/484