Cover image for Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community By Daniel Shank Cruz

Queering Mennonite Literature

Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community

Daniel Shank Cruz

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$84.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08245-5

$24.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08244-8
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184 pages
6" × 9"
2019

Queering Mennonite Literature

Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community

Daniel Shank Cruz

Queering Mennonite Literature takes up the intersections of two cultures (and academic fields) that rarely address one another—queer theory/literary studies and Mennonite/religious studies. In so doing, this engaging and accessible study makes a much-needed, highly original, and very important intervention. Cruz has an impressive familiarity with both queer theory and Mennonite studies, and he brings a wide selection from both fields to bear on his analysis.”

 

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Though the terms “queer” and “Mennonite” rarely come into theoretical or cultural contact, over the last several decades writers and scholars in the United States and Canada have built a body of queer Mennonite literature that shifts these identities into conversation. In this volume, Daniel Shank Cruz brings this growing genre into a critical focus, bridging the gaps between queer theory, literary criticism, and Mennonite literature.

Cruz focuses his analysis on recent Mennonite-authored literary texts that espouse queer theoretical principles, including Christina Penner’s Widows of Hamilton House, Wes Funk’s Wes Side Story, and Sofia Samatar’s Tender. These works argue for the existence of a “queer Mennonite” identity on the basis of shared values: a commitment to social justice, a rejection of binaries, the importance of creative approaches to conflict resolution, and the practice of mutual aid, especially in resisting oppression. Through his analysis, Cruz encourages those engaging with both Mennonite and queer literary criticism to explore the opportunity for conversation and overlap between the two fields.

By arguing for engagement between these two identities and highlighting the aspects of Mennonitism that are inherently “queer,” Cruz gives much-needed attention to an emerging subfield of Mennonite literature. This volume makes a new and important intervention into the fields of queer theory, literary studies, Mennonite studies, and religious studies.

Queering Mennonite Literature takes up the intersections of two cultures (and academic fields) that rarely address one another—queer theory/literary studies and Mennonite/religious studies. In so doing, this engaging and accessible study makes a much-needed, highly original, and very important intervention. Cruz has an impressive familiarity with both queer theory and Mennonite studies, and he brings a wide selection from both fields to bear on his analysis.”
“Daniel Shank Cruz uses the radical call of his Anabaptist heritage to embrace the notion of an ‘upside-down kingdom,’ a place in which order and boundaries might be overturned in the name of compassion and grace for every person’s (queer) story. Using a theoretically nuanced approach to an emerging group of writers of Mennonite identity, Cruz’s close readings invite the reader to understand how the personal and the public are always at play with one another, especially in the stories religious communities tell (or seek to omit) about themselves.”
“Close to the bone and out on a limb, Daniel Cruz asks what Mennonite and queer have in common. The answer is traumatic bodily memories, dissent, and dreams of just and loving relationships. Critical necessity and personal urgency compel his readings of nine authors to demonstrate that ‘Mennonitism is queer,’ and prophetic provocations speak from the intersection of these minoritized identities.”
“Early in this provocative and illuminating book, Daniel Shank Cruz observes that literature provides the space that allows us ‘to begin reconciling the identities of queer and Mennonite.’ He populates his fresh, richly documented analysis with a memorable array of writers and texts, all the while offering his readers a timely and compelling archive of queer memory in the context of Mennonite literature and life.”

Daniel Shank Cruz is Associate Professor of English at Utica College in New York.