Poor Queer Studies: Confronting Elitism in the University

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In Poor Queer Studies Matt Brim shifts queer studies away from its familiar sites of elite education toward poor and working-class people, places, and pedagogies.

Brim shows how queer studies also takes place beyond the halls of flagship institutions: in night school; after a three-hour commute; in overflowing classrooms at no-name colleges; with no research budget; without access to decent food; with kids in tow; in a state of homelessness. Drawing on the everyday experiences of teaching and learning queer studies at the College of Staten Island, Brim outlines the ways the field has been driven by the material and intellectual resources of those institutions that neglect and rarely serve poor and minority students. By exploring poor and working-class queer ideas and laying bare the structural and disciplinary mechanisms of inequality that suppress them, Brim jumpstarts a queer-class knowledge project committed to anti-elitist and anti-racist education. Poor Queer Studies is essential for all of those who care about the state of higher education and building a more equitable academy.

Author: Matt Brim

Paperback Published March 2020 2A64 pages

“Through his ethnographic accounts of the lives of his students, Matt Brim charts out in startling detail how queer studies produces class inequity. Having all the makings of a classic in queer studies and pedagogy studies, his book should be required reading in every intro to queer studies course at the undergraduate and graduate level. The field has needed Poor Queer Studies for a long time.” — E. Patrick Johnson, author of Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women

“Matt Brim's stunning Poor Queer Studies forces us to look at higher education through the lens of inequality to consider the ramifications of what he calls the ‘overrepresentation of affluence’ within academe. He assesses the ways faculty in programs dedicated to race, gender, and sexuality are marginalized, overworked, and undercompensated, then flips the equation to examine inequalities within and across these fields. Whether amassing demographic data or offering beautiful and challenging readings of key texts, Brim is relentlessly on target. His sweep and depth are breathtaking.” — Cathy N. Davidson, author of The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

"A damning critique of the impact of academic elitism on poor and working-class students. . . . Poor Queer Studies lays bare the structural and disciplinary mechanism of inequality, from overcrowded classrooms and inadequate educational resources to more basic deficiencies of the underprivileged such as homelessness, lack of access to food, healthcare, and childcare, and more." — Donald Padgett, The Advocate

"Provocative and timely. . . . Poor Queer Studies will be valuable reading if you work at any institution of higher education—poor or rich; public or private; urban or rural; elitist or not—because it offers indispensable tools for navigating the crises of the academy. Brim challenges readers to imagine what a queer-class analysis might yield not just for their own scholarship and teaching, but for the lives of their students and the worlds they inhabit." — Nino Testa, Women's Review of Books

"Poor Queer Studies not only questions the institutional evolution of the field, but also raises concerns about class that have not been addressed throughout the elitist razzle-dazzle of the discipline; or in other words 'rich' queer studies. . . . Poor Queer Studies is a courageous text. . . ." — Ipek Sahinler, E3W Review of Books

"This is a huge theoretical, methodological and political contribution to Queer Studies and in particular, Queer Pedagogies. Finishing this book leaves an uncomfortable doubt about how much and for whom are we allegedly queering academy and universities." — Luan C. B. Cassal, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"Any professional concerned with equity in higher education would do well to read this analysis of the stultifying inattention to the lives of poor and working-class LGBTQ individuals within the field of queer studies. . . . This is not a guide for instruction (i.e., there is no recommended curriculum or a listing of suggested texts), but rather a powerful examination of the field of queer studies and, more broadly, of its place within the context of efforts to make higher education more inclusive and welcoming to all seeking its benefits. Highly recommended. Faculty and professionals."— H. M. Miller, Choice

"Ostensibly a book about the discipline of queer studies, it actually provides a searing, astute indictment of what's wrong with the academy writ large. If you read only one book about the state of the academy, it ought to be Poor Queer Studies." — Hans Rollman, Popmatters

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