Bringing together novelists and poets with literary theorists and literary historians, Creative Writing and Critical Thought is a series of lively and in-depth conversations about the state of literary practice and study in contemporary American culture.
In this installment, Garth Greenwell (Cleanness, What Belongs to You), Lambda Literary Award finalist and author of the “the great gay novel for our times” (the New Republic), joined Carolyn Dinshaw (How Soon Is Now?, Getting Medieval), world renowned scholar of queer theory and LGBTQ studies, in conversation. Greenwell and Dinshaw discussed desire and discovery, past and present, through their intersecting lenses of fiction and theory.
The conversations that result from this series will be published in the New Literary History journal as well as online, creating a permanent record of dialogues among a variety of prominent writers and theorists thinking together about the nature and role of creative practice.
Creative Writing and Critical Thought is an occasional series co-sponsored by New Literary History and The Center for Fiction.
How Soon Is Now?
By Carolyn Dinshaw
Published by Duke University Press Books
In this volume, medievalist Carolyn Dinshaw offers a powerful critique of modernist temporal regimes through a revelatory exploration of queer ways of being in time as well as the potential queerness of time itself.
How Soon Is Now? performs a powerful critique of modernist temporal regimes through its revelatory exploration of queer ways of being in time as well as of the potential queerness of time itself. Carolyn Dinshaw focuses on medieval tales of asynchrony and on engagements with these medieval temporal worlds by amateur readers centuries later. In doing so, she illuminates forms of desirous, embodied being that are out of sync with ordinarily linear measurements of everyday life, that involve multiple temporalities, that precipitate out of time altogether. Dinshaw claims the possibility of a fuller, denser, more crowded now that theorists tell us is extant but that often eludes our temporal grasp.
Whether discussing Victorian men of letters who parodied the Book of John Mandeville, a fictionalized fourteenth-century travel narrative, or Hope Emily Allen, modern coeditor of the early-fifteenth-century Book of Margery Kempe, Dinshaw argues that these and other medievalists outside the academy inhabit different temporalities than modern professionals operating according to the clock. How Soon Is Now? clears space for amateurs, hobbyists, and dabblers who approach medieval worlds from positions of affect and attachment, from desires to build other kinds of worlds. Unruly, untimely, they urge us toward a disorderly and asynchronous collective.
By Garth Greenwell
Published by FSG
In the highly anticipated follow-up to his beloved debut, What Belongs to You, Garth Greenwell deepens his exploration of foreignness, obligation, and desire.
Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song.
In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student’s confession recalls his own first love, a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with another foreigner opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.
Cleanness revisits and expands the world of Garth Greenwell’s award-winning debut, What Belongs to You, declared “an instant classic” by the New York Times Book Review. In exacting, elegant prose, he transcribes the strange dialects of desire, cementing his stature as one of our most vital living writers..
Carolyn Dinshaw is Julius Silver Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English at New York University and one of the world’s leading scholars of queer theory and LGBTQ studies. She is a medievalist whose research not only focuses on the late Middle Ages in England and beyond, but also explores the relationship of past to present. Her award-winning book, Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics (1989), was the first full-length feminist study of Chaucer. She followed this with two books that develop analyses of desires for the past: Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (1999) and How Soon is Now? Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time (2012). With David M. Halperin she founded the flagship journal of LGBTQ Studies, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Before moving to NYU, Dinshaw taught for many years at the University of California at Berkeley, where she was instrumental in the early development of LGBT Studies. At NYU, she founded and directed the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and, more recently, served as Dean for the Humanities. In the classroom, she regularly teaches materials past and present, in courses ranging from Medieval Misogyny to Queer New York City.
Garth Greenwell is the author of the acclaimed Cleanness (FSG, 2020), a work of fiction that Colm Tóibín, writing in a review featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, called, “bravura writing” and “brilliantly executed.” Frank Bidart hailed it as “a masterpiece”, and compared Greenwell to Joyce and Lawrence. Cleanness was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize, the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, and France’s Prix Sade. It was named a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Critics Top 10 Book of the Year, and a Best Book of 2020 by the New Yorker, TIME, NPR, the BBC, and more than 30 other publications. Greenwell’s first novel, What Belongs to You (FSG, 2016), won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, it was named a Best Book of 2016 by over fifty publications in nine countries, was praised as “the great gay novel for our times” by the New Republic, and has been translated into fourteen languages. His short fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, A Public Space, and VICE, and he has written criticism for the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and Harpers, among others.