Robert Penn Warren Distinguished Associate Professor
Ph.D., Tulane University
212-O Allen Hall
Michael Bibler earned his Ph.D. at Tulane University and taught at the University of Mary Washington, Manchester University, and Northumbria University before joining LSU in 2013. His research focuses on queer readings of 19th and 20th century American literature and culture, with a special focus on the U.S. South and its wider, transnational connections. Bibler brings these interests into the classroom in a range of different courses: “Woke Southern Literature” explores the long tradition of progressive, activist literature in South, while “Southern Sexualities,” “Queer-of-Color Critique and Southern Studies,” and “Rethinking Southern Gothic” variously ask how reading “regional” texts, settings, and themes can complicate dominant, metronormative narratives of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Inspired by the work of his first monograph, Cotton's Queer Relations: Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936-1968, he is currently working on a long-term project about sexuality, race, and gender in black and white southern writing before the Civil War, entitled “Possessive Intimacy: Property, Sexuality, and the Literature of U.S. Slavery.” He has also published in the journals PMLA, Angelaki, south: a scholarly journal, MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, Philological Quarterly, Journal of American Studies, Southern Cultures, and Mississippi Quarterly. More immediately, he is completing a book about queer literature, music, art, and film from the 1980s to the present, entitled “Silly Pleasures: Queer, Camp, Nonce, and the Art of Being Literal.” This book intervenes in longstanding debates in Queer Studies about anti-normativity and utopianism by reading a diverse collection of works that use silliness as an aesthetic practice to imagine a fundamentally different relation to the normal—one that “crashes the party” of the normal instead of simply opposing it. Focusing on the B-52's, late Truman Capote, early RuPaul, John Waters, and the artist Nick Cave, as well as the films Bernie, Sordid Lives, and Greater Tuna, the book shows how all of these works undermine and reconfigure prescriptive categories of sexual, gender, racial, and regional identity in order to create more ethical and inclusive forms of sociality. They do this by adopting a silly aesthetics closely aligned with camp: they refuse to take the categories of identity seriously by ironically taking them literally. They embrace the frivolous, the ridiculous, the mundane, and the literal to rearrange conventional structures of meaning and thus suggest more open, vibrant, and flexible possibilities for being in the world.
Area(s) of Interest
19th and 20th c. American literature and culture, Southern Studies, Queer Studies, Feminist Studies, African American literature