ABSTRACT

In the wake of a political project spanning three decades that was committted to a rhetoric of gay pride, a few queer theorists turned to the affect of shame to rethink queer politics in the twenty-first century. This article entertains the possibility of a politics of shame but ultimately suggests that a politics of shame presents an interesting paradox: shame, in one of its most important senses, seems to dissipate when it is made public or when it is shared. That is, the negative and isolating qualities that are constitutive of the affect of shame are negated when it is confessed. To confess one's shame is to destroy it. The impossibility of sharing shame renders it difficult to politicize. Drawing from Freud, Lacan, Jacques-Alain Miller, and Sartre, I posit a notion of shame that is constitutive of a kind of political subjectivity, though is not itself a programmatic politics.

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