Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-s6gjx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-25T15:29:28.947Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

A Queer Supplement: Reading Spinoza after Grosz

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2020


This article critiques Elizabeth Grosz's understanding that queer theory is unproductive insofar as it disrupts the specific identities of gay and lesbian. Reconsidering ideas about desire, the body, and identity that Grosz takes from Gilles Deleuze's work on Friedrich Nietzsche and Baruch Spinoza, this essay argues that, despite her productive reworking of homophobia in terms of “active” and “reactive” forces, Grosz's application of Spinoza is only partial. Focusing on Spinoza's evaluation of bodies, the essay both critiques Grosz's approach to experimental desire and observes Spinozist preoccupations in order to talk about the experimental body. It concludes that if Grosz were to attend more seriously to the Spinozist imperative to analyze a body in terms of its capabilities—that is, its power to be affected—the epistemological basis of her argument would change. It would be difficult to dismiss the plurality and sensibility of a queer body or its challenge to lesbian and gay as the source of a primary identity.

Research Article
Copyright © 1999 by Hypatia, Inc.

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Dale, Catherine. 1997. A debate between feminism and queer. Critical InQueeries 1(3): 145–57.Google Scholar
Deleuze, Gilles. 1983. Nietzsche and philosophy. Trans. Tomlinson, Hugh. New York: Althone.Google Scholar
Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. Spinoza: Practical philosophy. Trans. Hurley, Robert. San Francisco: City Lights.Google Scholar
Deleuze, Gilles. 1992. Expressionism in philosophy: Spinoza. Trans. Joughin, Martin. New York: Zone.Google Scholar
Gatens, Moira. 1996. Power, ethics and sexual imaginaries. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Grosz, Elizabeth. 1993. Experimental desire: Bodies and pleasures in queer theory. Paper read at conference on Sexualities: Public Discourse and Academic Knowledges, 7 Aug. at University of Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
Grosz, Elizabeth. 1995. Space, time and perversion. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Halperin, David. 1995. Saint Foucault: Towards a gay hagiography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Hardt, Michael. 1993. Gilles Deleuze: An apprenticeship in philosophy. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jeffreys, Sheila. 1993. The lesbian heresy. Melbourne: Spinifex.Google Scholar
de Lauretis, Teresa. 1991. Queer theory: Lesbian and gay sexualities, an introduction. differences 3(2): iii.Google Scholar
Lloyd, Genevieve. 1989. Sex, gender and subjectivity. Australian Feminist Studies 10.Google Scholar
Lloyd, Genevieve. 1994. Part of nature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Spinoza, Baruch. 1994. The Spinoza reader. Ed. and Trans. Curley, Edwin. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar