Echoes of a Queer Messianic

From Frankenstein to Brokeback Mountain

By Richard O. Block

Subjects: Men's Studies, Queer Studies, Lesbian / Gay Studies, Literary Criticism, Film Studies
Series: SUNY series, Literature . . . in Theory
Hardcover : 9781438469553, 214 pages, April 2018
Paperback : 9781438469546, 214 pages, January 2019

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Table of contents


1. A Man’s Best Friend Is His Monster: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

2. Peter Schlemihl’s Wondrous Story or the Genesis of a Queer Jewish Outlaw

3. Queer Prosthetics or Male Tribadism in Kleist’s “On the Puppet Theater”

4. Queer Echoes Traversing Great Spaces: Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse and Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther

5. “I’m nothin’. I’m nowhere.”: Echoes of a Queer Messianic in Brokeback Mountain


Reconsiders mostly German narratives from around 1800 to recover echoes of a queer messianic that still resonate today.


Queer theory has focused heavily on North American and contemporary contexts, but in this book Richard O. Block helps to expand that reach. Deftly combining the two main currents of recent queer theory, the asocial and the reparative, he reconsiders mostly German narratives from around 1800, while relating his findings to recent texts such as A Lover's Discourse and Brokeback Mountain. He offers novel readings of well-known texts by Shelley, Kleist, and Goethe, arguing that this early writing serves as a creative font for much of the subsequent work in sexology. These texts also provide echoes of a kind of love overlooked or suppressed in favor of a politics of appeasement or one intended to make queers model citizens. This book charts the unexplored possibilities for queer love in an attempt to map a future for gay politics in the age of homonormativity.

Richard O. Block is Associate Professor of Germanics at the University of Washington, Seattle and the author of The Spell of Italy: Vacation, Magic, and the Attraction of Goethe.


"Compelling and highly original, this book offers a major intervention into queer theory, while at the same time performing stunning feats of literary and film criticism. This is a work of first-rate intelligence, style, and critical and theoretical precision." — John David Rhodes, University of Cambridge