Dagon as Queer Assemblage: Effeminacy and Terror in Samson Agonistes
This chapter interweaves Jasbir Puar’s foundational work on “homonationalism” and “terrorist assemblages” with discussions about Samson Agonistes and the War on Terror. Combining this with early modernist work on effeminacy, Daniel argues that a resemblance between Samson as an emasculated male and Dagon as a monstrous hybrid or “queer assemblage” provokes Samson’s razing of the Philistine temple. In this analysis, Samson’s final act of religious violence is an act of anxious displacement. Anxiety likewise explains critics’ painstaking efforts to distance Milton from Samson’s terrorist act. From this shared logic of displacement, we can perceive Daniel’s urgent call for a queer Milton criticism attentive to the manifestations and effects of anxiety, including its transformation into terror.