Beside You In Time : Sense Methods & Queer Sociabilities in the American 19th Century by Elizabeth Freeman

Tell us about your new book. What is its central project?

 

Beside You in Time sees timing, or rhythm/pace, as a non-linguistic, sensual basis for sociability, exemplified in Foucault's Discipline and Punish and reaching an apotheosis in the nineteenth century.  My book tracks alternative uses of timing by dissident groups such as Shakers, ex-slaves and their descendants, amateur historians, the chronically ill, and Catholics, all of whom use duration, frequency, repetition, and other temporal methods to establish social ties.  I ultimately tie this to a theory of queer sociability as hyper-relational, rather than anti-relational as it has been theorized.

 

What got you started thinking about this set of problems in this way?

 

I was not super-excited about the way I dealt with timing in the first chapter of my previous bookTime Binds, to be honest.  I wanted a way to account more systematically for rhythm and actions taking place in concert.  And I was intrigued that "discipline" came in many ways "before" sexuality, and so could be tied to ways of being together that did not reduce to same-sex, genital love yet were incipiently queer.

 

If you could pair your book with one other text, what would you recommend? Why?

I might recommend reading Caroline Levine's Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network.  She and I share an interest in the formal strategies people use to organize social and political life, and a sense that being with others is as much about aesthetics as it is about affect or psychology.  My first book had the subtitle Forms of Belonging, but I think this third book, Beside You in Time, would intersect most interestingly.

 

Beside You in Time was published by Duke University Press. You can find it here.