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Unexpected Pleasures

Parody, Queerness, and Genre in 20th-Century British Fiction

Lauryl Tucker

What are the sources—and the effects—of the pleasurable feeling of power that genre gives us? What happens to that power when conventionality tips into parody? Unexpected Pleasures explores the connection between genre parody and queerness in twentieth-century British fiction. Teasing out the parodic sensibility of writers including Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Sam Selvon, Dorothy Sayers, Stella Gibbons, and Zadie Smith, Tucker offers an innovative reading of works that seem to  obey excessively the rules of genre. By oversupplying the pleasurable sense of knowledge and the illusion of predictive power that genre confers, these works play with readerly expectation in order to expose and queer a broader set of assumptions about desire, resolution, and futurity. Unexpected Pleasures expands on a burgeoning critical interest in genre as an interpretive tool, and further diversifies the archive and methodology of queer critique. Gathering a surprising group of writers together, it reveals new through-lines between middlebrow and highbrow, and among modernist, mid-century, and contemporary literature.

About the Author

Lauryl Tucker is Associate Professor of English, Sewanee: The University of the South. Lauryl Tucker is an Associate Professor of English at The University of the South. In addition to teaching courses in 20th- and 21st-century British and Irish literature. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection between gender and parody, and she has published articles on Woolf, Stevie Smith, and Dorothy Sayers in LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory, Twentieth Century Literature, and Feminist Modernist Studies (respectively). She contributes to the University of Venus Blog at Inside Higher Ed and contributed a chapter about academic satire for #MeToo and Modernism (Clemson 2023).

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Pages: 282 pages

Published: February 2022


ISBN: 978-1-949979-68-8

ISBN: 978-1-63804-037-8