Morbid Dicks: Queer Narration's Destiny of Death in Moby-Dick

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Micah Spiece


Many sections of Moby-Dick describe behaviors of the Pequod's sailors that seem, at least to conlemporary readers, sexuaully suggestive; queer criticism of the text often focuses on their interactions to argue that Melville plays fast and loose with sexual norms. Some have argued that the text's over­whelming employment of phallic imagery and its cyclical narrative voice fashion a rhetoric of sexuality. Missing from critical conversation is that the absolute pleasure experienced by the sailors in erotic homosociality leads to the novel's apocalyptic climax. This paper works, through close readings of the novel, to synthesize rhetorical studies of Moby-Dick with contemporary queer criticism from Lee Edelman and Judith Halberstam. Ultimately, it ar­gues that the novel, by denying procreation, futurism, and even conventional meaning-making from the story, is inherently queer. This will open up the text's form and style, as well as its content, to queer criticism in previously unexplored ways.


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Arts & Letters