Retrospective Sex: Rewriting Intersexuality in Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex

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This article examines the representation of intersexuality in Jeffrey Eugenides's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2002 novel Middlesex. It situates the depiction of intersexuality within the context of current scholarship on sexed identity within the field of gender and sexuality studies. It argues that while a fictional focus on ambiguously sexed identity might appear to be aligned with queer critiques of fixed categories of "sex," Eugenides's narrative remains implicated in heteronormative assumptions. More specifically, it will explore the narrative strategies which frame Calliope Stephanides's intersexed body, focussing on the relationship between the male-identified adult Cal, "author" of this fictional autobiography, and his remembered teenage girl self. It will suggest that the retrospective logic at work in this narrative is complicit in a heteronormative temporality which reinforces the causal relationship between sex, gender and sexuality which queer theorists have sought to interrogate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-201
JournalJournal of American Studies
Issue number1
Early online date24 Dec 2009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010

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