Kate Nelson's Genre Defying Work The Argonauts

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Maggie Nelson’s genre-defying work The Argonauts (2015) embraces instability and complexity in identity through eliciting a parallel between the renewal of the Argo in the Greek Myth “Jason and the Argonauts” and language: “Just as the Argo’s parts may be replaced over time but the boat is still called the Argo, whenever the lover utters the phrase ‘I love you,’ its meaning must be renewed by each us, as ‘the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new’” (Nelson, 5). The Argo implies continued movement and interior evolution; claiming permanence in the structure would be disingenuous since renovations are necessary to keep the boat afloat—just as claiming stability in ones’ internal conception of identity, especially with regards to gender and sexuality, is problematic and ultimately an injustice to the complexities that lie within each person. However, institutionalized binaries of sex (female/male), gender (woman/man), and sexuality (homo/hetero) fail to provide imperative space in self-exploration and work to suppress the potentialities within these arenas. By developing upon examples in The Argonauts through engaging with the ideas of Judith Butler in Gender Trouble and Performative Acts and Gender Constitution and Eve Sedgwick in The Epistemology of the Closet, these binaries may be revealed as a construction that conceals the operations of oppression within contemporary American culture. After the

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