The Pressure to Commit: Professionalism, Periodization, Affect
Queer Faith concludes by examining some implications of Pauline theology for recent debates about periodization, affect, and reading. The coda observes that the figure of the scholar whose work is spurred by love rather than professional aspiration, submission to texts rather than mastery over them, reparative rather than paranoid reading, offers a paradigm for scholarly commitments that are not defined in terms of traditional periodization. It also recognizes that an endorsement of amateurism and attachment might be a secular version of the Pauline hierarchy of faith and love over works and rewards. Rather than treat this theological resonance as a reason to dismiss the possibility that different orientations to reading can reinvent institutional norms, the coda explores what the persistence of this Pauline structure can tell scholars about ways of inhabiting academia. Pursing this framework to its logical conclusion, the coda proposes that a revaluation of amateurism and promiscuity—with all of their implications of infidelity and instrumentality, distraction and play—may encourage scholarship that resists the ideals of scholarly mastery and commitment that tend to reinforce the institutionalization of queer theory’s archive as modern and secular.
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