Book Chapters

“A perfectly normal life”? Suburban Space, Automobility, and Ideological Whiteness in Love, Simon (FORTHCOMING)

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Race and the Suburbs in American Film
Editor: Merrill Schleier

On the surface, Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti, 2018) is a formulaic teen romance centered on the coming out process of a white, middle-class gay teenager who embodies potentially conservative and regressive attitudes toward queerness and gender variation. The normative frameworks embedded in this film become even more tangible, and unsurprising, when we consider its spatial dimensions, in that most of its events are set in suburban spaces—which historically, imaginatively, and ideologically have been associated with notions of white supremacy, homogenization, and heteronormativity. Given these ties and considering how these spaces were often developed with the purpose of further marginalizing minority communities, this chapter examines how this spatiality, its metonymic extensions, and its enabling mechanisms affect the representation of queer whiteness in the film. I demonstrate how Love Simon’s implementations of space and mobility highlight ways of approaching the film that can potentially pressure values such as homogenization and normativity. More specifically, I argue that Love, Simon uses suburban space and automobility to self-reflexively highlight and negotiate the unsustainability of normative thinking and the difficulties (and consequent impossibilities) of maintaining a semblance of homogeny in a culture with rapidly evolving sociocultural circumstances. Through a close examination of the film’s representations of automobility and suburban space, it becomes apparent that Love, Simon is a film in crisis: its attempts to foster a normative, “universal” appeal are ultimately pressured by the very presence of suburban spaces and automobility.

The Queerness of Space and the Body in Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda Series

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Media Crossroads: Intersections of Space and Identity in Screen Cultures
Editors: Paula Massood, Angel Daniel Matos, and Pamela Robertson Wojcik

Focusing on gameworld space and design, the denaturalization of the normative body, and the mechanisms of kinship and desire, this discussion identifies and examines the nonnormative potentialities embedded in the The Legend of Zelda series. I examine how a selection of its games can be approached as queer through their spatial design and core gaming mechanics. Here, rather than using queer as a concept exclusively used to describe interactions amongst people who engage in nonnormative forms of sexuality and gender expression, I draw from the frameworks developed by Mel Y. Chen to approach queerness as “an array of subjectivities, intimacies, beings, and spaces located outside of the heteronormative,” and as a framework that is “immanent to animate transgressions, violating proper intimacies.” I also approach queerness in video games similarly to Ruberg, who characterizes it as a resistance to “the hegemonic logics that dictate when it means to be an acceptable, valued, heteronormative (or homonormative) subject.” Through a queer perspective, I argue that the Zelda series uses its spaces and structures to challenge universalizing approaches towards being and to disrupt monolithic narratives on growth, identity, and the body. An examination of space using queer and intersectional approaches to identity and embodiment demonstrates how a queer impulse saturates these games, further demonstrating how the Zelda series is not as conservative or regressive as it may seem on the surface.

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“Somewhere away from the lights of the city”: Unsettling the Normative Frameworks of Urban Space in Queer YA Literature

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Examining Images of Urban Life: A Resource for Teachers of Young Adult Literature
Editors: Laura M. Nicosia and James F. Nicosia

Cities are often approached as spaces that are conducive to the flourishing and proliferation of queer life, culture, and livability. The lasting social, cultural, and imaginative ties between queer life and urban space have led to the development of normative ideologies and attitudes that can broadly be categorized under the concept of metronormativity. Metronormative thinking not only leads to a hierarchy that privileges city space over rural space, but it also bolsters stereotypes and misconceptions in terms of the shapes that queer life and community can ultimately assume. Jack Halberstam and Scott Herring have challenged metronormative ideologies through their analyses of queerness in rural spaces, showing how they have their own complicated ways of fostering a sense of queer community and belonging—even though these forms of kinship do not always resemble the dynamics of queer city life. Furthermore, metronormative logics are also informed by frameworks of privilege and whiteness that do not reflect the experience of people and communities that are further marginalized through their race, ethnicity, culture, and/or class. This book chapter challenges stereotypical representations of city life in queer (young adult) literature in order to complicate the metronormative impulse that haunts the field.

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Subverting Normative Paradigms: Teaching Representations of Gender and Queerness in Young Adult Literature

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Teaching Young Adult Literature (MLA Options for Teaching)
Editors: Mike Cadden, Karen Coats, and Roberta Seelinger Trites

How does one provide students with the critical discourse to detect and critique both the radical and socializing impulses found in YA texts centered on gender, sexuality, and queerness? What texts and sources make students and educators more amenable to discussing radical approaches to gender, sexuality, and queerness in YA literature? To address these questions, this chapter focuses on a series of thematic approaches that offer suggestions for examining gender, sexuality, and queerness in YA texts. These brief accounts of how to contextualize discussions about gender and sexuality include considerations to keep in mind when designing a course. This discussion will limit itself to these three thematic approaches: deconstructing femininity and masculinity, examining representations of queerness, and framing the discussion of trans YA literature. These approaches are not the only ways educators could approach gender, sexuality, and queerness in YA literature. Nonetheless, they do model how to explore the issues of gender and sexuality that haunt YA literature and the culture that generates these texts.

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Angel Daniel Matos
Book: The Routledge History of American Sexuality
Editors: Kevin P. Murphy, Jason Ruiz, and David Serlin

The concept of adolescence is deeply and conceptually intertwined with biological factors such as puberty, and sociocultural phenomena such as education, marketing, and consumerism. Because of this hold, adolescence is predictably naturalized, making it difficult for many to detect its constructed elements. Frameworks on adolescence are informed by knowledge and research conducted in various fields, including psychology, biology, queer studies, gender studies, cultural studies, critical youth studies, and youth literatures, among others—and these distinct perspectives make the concept difficult to pin down. Keeping in mind that it is virtually impossible to offer a concise yet complete discussion on adolescence that includes data from all of these areas, this books chapter has two goals: first, it offers a brief overview of the historical development of the concept of adolescence, particularly when it emerged as an area of inquiry during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Afterwards, this discussion draws from various fields such as queer studies, psychology, transgender studies, and critical youth studies to demonstrate how the concept of adolescence has been pressured, and the extent to which adolescence defies and reifies normative fictions that link certain forms of knowledge and experience to particular life stages.

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Complicating the Coming Out Story: Unpacking Queer and (Anti)Normative Thinking in Albertalli’s Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Engaging with Multicultural YA Literature in the Secondary Classroom
Editors: Ricki Ginsberg and Wendy J. Glenn

This book chapter advocates for the importance of implementing analytical frameworks that emphasize the role of privilege in one’s assessment and critique of the social intervention carried out by the young adult coming out narrative. This discussion also pushes educators to consider the importance of approaching the coming out process and coming out narratives as malleable and subject to change, and how both of these are ultimately inflected by factors such as a queer protagonist’s class, gender, race, cultural background, and social upbringing. Rather than pushing for a departure from the coming out narrative, as other scholars of young adult literature have suggested, this chapter instead calls for the need to reiteratively consider how changes in social and cultural circumstances affect the intervention that the coming out narrative must accomplish. This chapter will briefly address the state of the young adult coming out narrative in the field and will then proceed to examine how Becky Albertalli’s Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015) reinforces and complicates current understandings of the coming out narrative. This chapter will then offer a model of how to discuss these matters in the secondary classroom and will offer suggestions for further exploring how contemporary queer narratives addresses matters of privilege.

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Queer Consciousness/Community in David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing: “One the Other Never Leaving”

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Gender(ed) Identities: Critical Rereadings of Gender in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Editors: Tricia Clasen and Holly Hassel

In this book chapter, I assess how Levithan’s novel, through its artful use of narrative and superimposition of the past over the present, establishes a more nuanced form of queer consciousness/community that, as Michael Cart would argue, bestows “knowledge by showing us the commonalities of our human hearts.”  In order to achieve this, I first examine how and why Levithan’s text combines past-oriented and present-oriented narratives. I then examine how the novel’s narrative mode, and more specifically, its invocation of a Greek chorus, enables readers to expand notions of queer consciousness and community.  Lastly, I briefly contemplate on how the temporal and narrative mode of Two Boys Kissing tethers past and present generations not through family ties, but through political convictions.

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Conceal, Don’t Feel: A Queer Reading of Disney’s Frozen

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Unsex Me
Editors: Mette Brynaa Hansen and Anne Louise Haugaard Christiansen

This chapter is a short reflection on how Disney’s Frozen disrupts normative and binary thinking, and how the narrative lends itself to queer readings and interpretations. This chapter was first published as a blog post on this website.

Rita Mae Brown

Angel Daniel Matos
Book: Women’s Rights: Reflections in Popular Culture
Editor: Ann M. Savage

A biography of Rita Mae Brown, the author of the classic lesbian novel, Rubyfruit Jungle.

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