chapter
Queer Theory
Pages 4

Queer theory on the simplest level refers to an ensemble of strategies of reading and interpreting texts (whether literary or social) that has emerged in the last decade and has been profoundly influenced by poststructural theory. In contradistinction to criticism, which explicates facts about texts and instructs readers as to what a text means, theory attempts to explain how a text makes meanings. Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin has been influential in the evolution of theory through his conception of heteroglossia. As Bakhtin states, at any given time, a number of cultural determinants allow a text, phrase, word, or event to have meaning. These forces may be social, historical, psychological, political, or even personal. But a text must have relevance in relation to these conditions to have meaning; theory, in turn, generally takes as its task the delimitation or exposition of these conditions.