Tag Archives: Christina Penner

Queering Mennonite Literature: Archiving, Activism, and the Search for Community

I am excited to announce that my book Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community has just been released by Penn State University Press!

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. I bring this growing genre into a critical focus, bridging the gaps between queer theory, literary criticism, and Mennonite literature.

My analysis focuses on recent Mennonite-authored literary texts that espouse queer theoretical principles, including work by Christina Penner, Wes Funk, Jan Guenther Braun, Jessica Penner, Stephen Beachy, Corey Redekop, Casey Plett, Miriam Suzanne, and Sofia Samatar. Their books 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. The book encourages those engaging with both Mennonite studies and queer studies 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,” the book gives much-needed attention to an emerging subfield of Mennonite literature. It makes a new and important intervention into the fields of queer theory, literary studies, Mennonite studies, and religious studies.

You can find Queering Mennonite Literature on the Penn State University Press web site at this URL: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-27-108245-5.html. You can get 30% off by using the code NR18. Please ask your local libraries, whether institutional or public, to order a copy.

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Books Acquired Recently

Acker, Kathy. Bodies of Work. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1997.

—. Don Quixote. New York: Grove, 1986.

I love Kathy Acker, and have been meaning to read Don Quixote for quite a while now. I picked up Bodies of Work, a collection of her non-fiction, because it was only a dollar. It is in terrible shape; large chunks of pages are falling out, but all of the pages are there, so I’ll get the book re-bound. Normally I don’t buy books in bad condition, but I made an exception in this case because I love how Acker’s mind works.

These along with the Baldwin and Everett were purchased at Ken Sanders Rare Books.

Baldwin, James. Just Above My Head. 1979. New York: Dell, 1980.

Baldwin is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve been getting into his later fiction more recently. I actually ordered this book several months ago, but it was out of stock, so it was nice to find a copy while browsing in person.

Everett, Percival. I Am Not Sidney Poitier. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2009.

I also really enjoy Everett’s work, and I Am Not Sidney Poitier is one of his well-known books, so I am excited to read it. I am moving across the country in a week, thus I decided when I went to Ken Sanders this afternoon that I would only look for books by Acker, Baldwin, and Everett instead of browsing indiscriminately because I already have a lot to pack as it is. But my search for work by these authors was successful in all three cases!

Incidentally, I met Sidney Poitier when I was seven at the Los Angeles airport. I got his autograph (which hung on the wall of my bedroom for years, though I sadly no longer have it), and my mother got her picture taken with him. He was very gracious about being stopped by his fans.

Penner, Christina. Widows of Hamilton House. Winnipeg: Enfield, 2008.

This book was recently recommended to me by a friend who knows about my interest in Mennonite literature. It’s a gothic mystery, which is not a subject I normally read, but it should be fascinating because of the Mennonite elements.

This and D’anna’s two books were purchased from amazon.com’s network of sellers.

D’anna, Lynnette. Belly Fruit. Vancouver: New Star, 2000.

—. vixen. Toronto: Insomniac, 2001.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently ordered a bunch of D’anna’s books because she is the rare Mennonite writer who writes openly about sex. Both of these books have tacky titillating covers, so we’ll see whether the stories live up to their billing.

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