The Body in Wonder: Affective Suspension and Medieval Queer Futurity

  • Wan-Chuan Kao
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism book series (PSATLC)


This chapter argues that Chaucer in The Franklin’s Tale deploys wonder as an affective script that enfolds shame and creates its own reality. As a complex affective phenomenon that is somatic and cognitive, suspensive and mobile, stupefying and animating, wonder provides a strategic alternative to paradigms of shame or hope in reading premodern queer subject formation and futurity. Wonder as a queer temporal strategy suspends the present but also gestures toward an inscrutable future that is neither anti-relational nor utopic. Premodern queerness, in this instance, resides in the subject’s non-coincidence with declensions of the first, second, and third person. That is, the queer occupies the position of the fourth-person singular: the space of maximum attention and singular vitality that counters the disciplinary regime of marriage.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wan-Chuan Kao
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishWashington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA

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