Essays

The Politics of Teaching Queerly in Today’s Literature Classroom

Angel Daniel Matos

Journal: Research in the Teaching of English (volume 54, issue 1, August 2019)

A brief, personal exploration of the politics of teaching queerly in college-level literature classrooms, where I briefly contemplate the importance of using literature courses as a means for dismantling oppressive forms of discourse and for circulating ideas that are often silenced or sidelined in normative contexts.

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Editor’s Introduction: Queer Futurities in Youth Literature, Media, and Culture

Angel Daniel Matos and Jon M. Wargo

Journal: Research on Diversity in Youth Literature (volume 2, issue 1, June 2019)

Jon M. Wargo and I crafted this introduction for a special issue of Research on Diversity in Youth Literature focused on “Queer Futurities.” Here, we explore the frameworks of queer futurity that inform the creation and consumption of youth literature and media, the diverging ethical perspectives that exist toward queer futurism, and the real-world issues that pressure longings for a utopian, queerer future.

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A Narrative of a Future Past: Historical Authenticity, Ethics, and Queer Latinx Futurity in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Angel Daniel Matos

Journal: Children’s Literature (volume 47, 2019)

In this article, I highlight the challenges present in YA narratives situated in the past, focusing on the uneasy conflation of historical narrative with contemporary ideologies of queerness and current sociopolitical sensibilities. I then examine Aristotle and Dante’s temporal and reparative frameworks to demonstrate how it artfully negotiates the tensions between historical authenticity and ethical contemporary engagement through the use of queer affective and temporal frameworks. I explain how Aristotle and Dante deliberately exploits the seams between the historical realities of a 1980s US context and the potentialities of queer fiction to imbue a past-oriented narrative with optimistic discourse and positive affect—thus offering readers a story that challenges our expectations of historical and queer Latinx representation in this YA literature. More specifically, my discussion examines how Aristotle and Dante toys with temporality to provide emotional sustenance to minority people and communities—readers who often have difficulties obtaining this sustenance from YA literature in the first place, given that narratives set in the present often implement tropes such as parental authority and machismo to foreclose the overlap between Latinx and queer identity.

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Rabbit Weddings, Animal Collectives, and the Potentialities of Perverse Reading: Children’s Literature and Queer Worldmaking in A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

Angel Daniel Matos

Journal: QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking (volume 5, issue 3, 2018)

This article examines the queer and youth worldmaking frameworks implemented in Jill Twiss and E. G. Keller’s A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, a satirical picture book presented by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Both a critique of Mike Pence’s history of antiqueer politics and an exploration of matters such as democracy, queer kinship, and same-sex marriage, Marlon Bundo has been approached both as an effective critique of the current administration and as a “tired” political satire. This discussion explores the picture book’s ideological frameworks through the implementation of “perverse” forms of reading. It further highlights how Marlon Bundo connects to a history of children’s picture books aimed at critiquing conservative perspectives towards marriage, and demonstrates how the book is queerer and more generative than it may seem on the surface. Through an exploration of the picture book’s queer dynamics and its stance on notions such as difference, kinship, and collectivity, readers can better appreciate Marlon Bundo’s queerness regardless of its normative ending, and more effectively understand how this text partakes in a queer worldmaking project, in that it creates affinities and forms of kinship that traverse the boundaries of species, age, and readership.

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The Undercover Life of Young Adult Novels

Angel Daniel Matos

Journal: The ALAN Review (volume 44, number 2, 2017)

This article examines the ways in which book covers problematically suppress, conceal, contradict, or delete the knowledge contained in a young adult novel’s pages—either because the content is considered contentious and controversial or because it has been determined that the novel’s content could affect its distribution and sales. I argue that a mismatch between a young adult novel’s cover and the content in the novel’s pages leads to a withholding of information that can be confusing and downright harmful to readers, especially if we believe in the influence of young adult literature in the formation of ethically informed persons.

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Something’s Flaming in the Kitchen: Exploring the Kitchen as a Stage of Gay Domesticity in Queer as Folk

Angel Daniel Matos

Journal: Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture (volume 2, number 1, 2017)

This article examines how Showtime’s Queer as Folk uses the space of the kitchen as a way of staging a negotiation and, at times, contestation of the normative image of gay domesticity that was emerging in American television during the early to mid-2000s. Through a close analysis of the programme’s representation of queer architecture, food preparation and misuse of kitchens, this discussion highlights the ways in which Queer as Folk complicates the assimilationist perspective of gay kitchens as a heteronormative, wholesome, family-oriented space. This article first traces the ways in which the kitchen functions as a locus of gay identity and domesticity in mainstream American television and then proceeds to unpack the ways in which kitchens in Queer as Folk comply with or challenge dominant narratives of gay domesticity. It will be shown that the programme’s use of kitchens pushes viewers to recognize the ways in which different models of gay home life are negotiated through spatial means.

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Fear of the Other: Exploring the Ties Between Gender, Sexuality, and Self-Censorship in the Classroom

Robert Bittner with Angel Daniel Matos

Journal: The ALAN Review (volume 44, number 1, 2016)

Winner of The ALAN Review’s Editors’ Award for Column Excellence

This column discusses the ethical and cultural issues that arise during acts of self-censorship in the teaching of young adult fiction centered on issues of gender and sexuality. This piece not only paints a portrait of the broad issues of gender and sexual identity that lead librarians, teachers, and scholars to engage in acts of self-censorship, but it also implores scholars and librarians to let young readers know that texts with emancipatory and groundbreaking representations of sexual and gender identity do exist.

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Writing Through Growth, Growth Through Writing: The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the Narrative of Development

Angel Daniel Matos

Journal: The ALAN Review (volume 40, number 3, 2013)

Winner of the 2014 Nilsen-Donelson Award for Best Article in The ALAN Review

This article examines the issue of social and personal development in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, focusing on how the novel appropriates and transmutes the conventions of the formation novel, formally known as the Bildungsroman, through the process and configuration of letter writing. Although the novel is written in an epistolary fashion, focusing on a series of letters sent to an undisclosed recipient, the overarching themes of these musings are focused on creating a social space in which the protagonist can record, evaluate, and deliberate his own position within his social context. These epistles also provide clarification of the pains and tribulations of achieving reconciliation between personal desire and social demand. Furthermore, a significant amount of these letters are focused on the execution and development of the act of writing, and more importantly, how writing influences and shapes the world of the protagonist.

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