Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
I’m always looking for intersections between academic writing and popular culture, and so, when I saw that my library had added Queer: A Graphic History to its new graphic novel shelf, I was instantly intrigued. My journey to LGBT+ allyship has been a long and winding road, and I didn’t get any queer theory in my collegiate career until graduate school. What Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele do is unpack the idea of “queer” as a cultural and intellectual concept and help explain the ideology behind it.
Queer is less a history of LGBT+ individuals and civil rights and more a history of queer theory. This distinction matters, because it tackles much of the theory and ideology I studied in graduate school. This is not to say that non-academics can’t access it, but I found the title to be a bit misleading and had to recalibrate my expectations. You learn about key terms in queer theory, as well as activists, theorists, and cultural icons that helped us to understand our notions of queerness in a variety of forms.
If you’re taking a queer theory course or would like to know more about aspects of queerness, this book is a pretty good guide. It breaks down complicated and often jargon-filled theorists like Judith Butler in a way that helps you understand them. This is the kind of book that would work well for an undergrad intro to theory course. The illustrations and layout are neat and pleasing to the eye, as well. While this isn’t the best or most approachable popular cultural introduction to queerness, it’s still an interesting and informative read.