Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick  

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Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (May 2, 1950 – April 12, 2009) was an American theorist in the fields of gender studies, queer theory (queer studies), and critical theory. Influenced by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, feminism, psychoanalysis, and deconstruction, her works reflect an abiding interest in a wide range of issues and topics, including queer performativity and performance; experimental critical writing; the works of Marcel Proust; non-Lacanian psychoanalysis; infibulation; artists' books; Buddhism and pedagogy; the affective theories of Silvan Tomkins and Melanie Klein; and material culture, especially textiles and texture. She is best-known for Epistemology of the Closet (1990).


Eve Kosofsky received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her Ph.D from Yale University. She taught writing and literature at Hamilton College, Boston University, and Amherst College. She held a visiting lectureship at UC Berkeley and taught at the School of Criticism and Theory when it was located at Dartmouth College. She was also the Newman Ivey White Professor of English at Duke University.

During her time at Duke, Sedgwick and her colleagues were in the academic avant-garde of the culture wars, using literary criticism to question--not always successfully--dominant discourses of sexuality, race, gender, and even literature itself. Sedgwick first presented her particular collection of critical tools and interests in the influential volumes Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985) and Epistemology of the Closet (1990). Despite, or perhaps because of its inner confusions, the latter work became one of gay and lesbian studies' and queer theory's founding texts.

She received the 2002 Brudner Prize at Yale. She taught graduate courses in English as Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York until her death from breast cancer on 12 April 2009, aged 58.

Eve Kosofsky married Hal Sedgwick in 1969; he survives her.

Important publications

Works edited by Sedgwick

  • Performativity and Performance (1995, coedited with Andrew Parker)
  • Shame & Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader (1995, co-edited with Adam Frank)
  • Gary in Your Pocket: Stories and Notebooks of Gary Fisher (1996, coedited with Gary Fisher))
  • Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction (1997, coedited with Jacob Press)

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