Papa, PhD

I have a short chapter in the new book Papa, PhD: Essays on Fatherhood by Men in the Academy edited by Mary Ruth Marotte, Paige Martin Reynolds and Ralph James Savarese (Rutgers University Press).

My chapter is called A River Runs through It: Queer Theory and Fatherhood. My publishing agreement only allows me to post 20% of the text, but here’s the abstract:

Queer theory is not just about the experiences of gay and lesbian people, but about troubling categories. We can queer almost anything, including fatherhood. This essay casts an autoethnographic glance at my attempts to combine queer theory, masculine identity and fatherhood. I show how my masculine identity, which has historically accommodated a wide array of performances which resist normative masculinity, is challenged for the first time by the idea of suckling my son. I frame this anxiety by a broader consideration of the effects that being a masculinities researcher have on fatherhood (the application of theory, comparisons to the body of literature) and how this process can prove problematic for the practice of fatherhood. I then go on to draw comparisons between the task of fatherhood and the production of academic research: the hours invested, the letting loose into the world, the identity and momentum gathered outside my direct control. I conclude by likening academic work to a bridge across a river: one side of the bank representing the default way of doing fatherhood, the other side promising brighter, more informed possibilities. The bridge enables us to reach the far side of the river, but ultimately we have to leave it behind to continue the paternal journey.

That sounds very serious, but the whole thing is played for laughs.

2 thoughts on “Papa, PhD

  1. Are you saying that fatherhood is queered in our culture unless it is applied to institutions or businesses instead of to children?

    PS: My husband has tried suckling our babies. They didn’t like the chest hair.

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