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Rafters and skylights in the English Building

Colloquium Archive

Alexandra J. Cavallaro

Name: Alexandra Cavallaro, English Department

Presentation Title: "Fighting 'Textual Harassment': Queer Rhetorical Pedagogies."

Date: May 8th, 2014


The Bible has often been used as a “text of terror” (Trible) to justify LGBTQ oppression and marginalization. Queer theology, however, has sought to provide defenses against anti-LGBTQ arguments and to destabilize dominant narratives of Christian identity, troubling other taken-for-granted categories (e.g. gender) and institutions (e.g. family, marriage) in the process. Drawing on a case study of a workshop titled “Biblical Self-Defense for the LGBT Community,” I will discuss the development of queer biblical literacies through which participants come to see that justifications for LGBTQ oppression are not inherent in the Bible itself, but in the ways it has been used rhetorically, removed from its particular social and historical context. In doing so, this workshop helps participants assemble new arguments that undercut common constructions of the relationship between Christian and LGBTQ communities. Ultimately, I argue that this points to a model of queer literacies that holds strategies of inclusion and disruption in productive dialogic tension.