Founder of Queer Theory, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Dies at 58


I always thought it was amazing that the founder of Queer Theory was a straight woman.

By Michelle Garcia of The Advocate:

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, a prominent theorist who is often cited as one of the founders of queer theory, died on April 12. She was 58.

Sedgwick was reportedly diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991, prompting her book A Dialogue on Love. Sedgwick taught English at several institutions including Boston College; the University of California, Berkeley; and Duke University, where she was a Newman Ivey White Professor of English.

According to friend Cathy Davidson, who wrote about Sedgwick’s death on Monday, she died by her partner Hal’s side.

“Eve was a practicing Buddhist and blessings were said in Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies all over the world to help with her passage to the next life, a passage that, I know, brings the loving connections she made to the next life,” Davidson wrote….

From Richard Kim at The Nation:

I have only ever worn out one book. The first copy–which I still keep as an artifact of my 20s–became a palimpsest of sorts, its text underlined in four different colors of pencil, emblazoned with streaks of yellow and green neon highlighter. Little enigmatic notes crawl up and down the margins of dog-eared pages, and decomposing Post-it notes jut out untidily from the edges; the spine has long since given way. At a certain point, picking up this particular copy became too overwhelming an encounter with my old selves, and so I bought a fresh one, which I tried in vain to keep clean. That book is Epistemology of the Closet, and its author is the brilliant, inimitable, explosive intellectual Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, who died last night from breast cancer at the age of 58…


Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (May 2, 1950 – April 12, 2009) was an American theorist in the fields of gender studies, queer theory (queer studies), and critical theory. Influenced by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, feminism, psychoanalysis, and deconstruction, her work reflects an abiding interest in a wide range of issues and topics, including queer performativity and performance; experimental critical writing; the works of Marcel Proust; non-Lacanian psychoanalysis; artists’ books; Buddhism and pedagogy; the affective theories of Silvan Tomkins and Melanie Klein; and material culture, especially textiles and texture.

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