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Queer theory is a field of critical theory that emerged in the early 1990s out of the fields of gay and lesbian studies and feminist studies. It is a kind of hermeneutics devoted to queer readings of texts. Heavily influenced by the work of Michel Foucault, queer theory builds both upon feminist challenges to the idea that gender is part of the essential self and upon gay/lesbian studies' close examination of the socially constructed nature of sexual acts and identities.
Critics of queer theory are concerned that the approach obscures or glosses altogether the material conditions that underpin discourse.Tim Edwards argues that queer theory extrapolates too broadly from textual analysis in undertaking an examination of the social. Adam Green argues that queer theory ignores the social and institutional conditions within which lesbians and gays live.
Queer theory's commitment to deconstruction makes it nearly impossible to speak of a "lesbian" or "gay" subject, since all social categories are denaturalized and reduced to discourse. Thus, queer theory cannot be a framework for examining selves or subjectivities # including those that accrue by race and class # but rather, must restrict its analytic focus to discourse.
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