Tag Archives: Jessica 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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Two New Book Reviews

I’ve just had two book reviews published, both on exciting new texts in the field of Mennonite literature.

The first is a review of Jessica Penner’s novel Shaken in the Water (pdf–scroll down to page 157), which appears in Mennonite Quarterly Review, the leading journal of Mennonite studies. It has been my goal to publish in MQR since I was in college, and Penner is a good friend of mine, so I am quite excited about this piece.

The second is a review of Jeff Gundy’s new collection of poetry, Somewhere Near Defiance, which appears in Your Impossible Voice, a crackling new literary e-journal. Gundy has been one of my favorite poets for years, and I am pleased that his new collection lives up to the high standard of his previous work.

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Books Acquired Recently

Burton, Betsy. The King’s English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller. Salt Lake City: Gibbs, 2005.

The King’s English is a bookstore in my neighborhood that I have patronized frequently during my time living in Salt Lake City. It is probably the best bookstore which sells exclusively new books that I’ve ever been to–I always find something fascinating that I wasn’t looking for. Burton’s book is a history of the store’s first quarter century. I’ll be moving this summer to take a new job, and have been acquiring various mementos of my favorite places in the city. This purchase is a part of that saying goodbye.

Penner, Jessica. Shaken in the Water. Tipp City: Foxhead, 2013.

I received a review copy of my good friend Jessica Penner’s new novel, and I am hoping to get a review of it published in an academic journal. I’ve read a few excerpts of it previously which were quite good, so I am looking forward to reading the whole thing. You can buy it here.

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