An Autotheory of Intertextual Kinship: Ambivalent Bodies in the Work of Maggie Nelson and Paul B. Preciado
Diverging from understandings of “autotheory” as a mere merger of theory and autobiography, in this inquiry, I attend to practices of citation that transfigure the “auto” in “autotheory.” Combining intellectual and disciplinary history with close readings of Paul Preciado’s Testo Yonqui (2008) and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015), I compare the historically and culturally specific ways in which these works of queer and trans life writing lay claim to autotheory’s dissident potential. I argue that citation, at once typographic and embodied, need not be reducible to conflicts of authority and influence. On the contrary, the life- sustaining social acts that characterise kinship as a practice enable us to re-envision formal practices of intertextuality as a queer mode of kin- fostering. By extending citational gestures across time, sex, and text, “intertextual kinship,” as I call it, performs a mode of queer belonging that contests the conceit of a single self. Preciado and Nelson proffer an autotheory that is neither a theory of a single self nor a single theory of the self. Rather, radical interdependency is what this corpus both thematises and formalises through its intertextual praxis. In reading intertextual kinship as a part of broader social struggles, I argue that autotheory challenges paradigms of self-knowledge production, opening up more inclusive methods of writing relationally and rewriting relationality.
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