Naked Lust: Obscene Relationality and the Turn to Queer Experimental Literature

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism book series (PSATLC)


This chapter argues that William S. Burroughs turns to experimental literature to displace queer social imagination from explicitly representational narrative forms to the affective relations of reading. I locate this turn against the Naked Lunch obscenity trial, demonstrating that the obscenity of queerness in the pre-Stonewall period rests on the representation of homosexuality as a political collectivity. In response, Burroughs creates an aesthetics of queer spectrality that immerses readers within the text’s eroticism, rewriting reading as a collective yet phantasmatic encounter with queer affect. The chapter traces the emergence of this aesthetic politics through Queer, Naked Lunch and the cut-up trilogy of The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, and Nova Express.


Human Form Experimental Literature Affective Relation Original Emphasis Queer Theory 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of New York at CortlandCortlandUSA

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