The queer uncanny

Olu Jenzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using Freud's 1919 essay on various manifestations of the uncanny as a starting point, this article considers the relationship between the queer and the uncanny. It focuses on how the 'queer uncanny' may offer new ways of problematically posing notions of both ontological stability and normality, and furthermore, may work to disrupt definitions of gender and sexuality in relation to what constitutes the human. The article seeks to show how we may conceptualize the queer uncanny through its confrontation of a heteronormative category of the real. The article focuses in particular on anxieties about ontological boundaries and their relation to gender ambivalence in light of the contemporary theoretical writings of Judith Butler and Sue-Ellen Case. Then it moves to investigate the metaphor of 'the closet' as a materialization of heteronormative domination, as theorized by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, to consider its uncanny presence in the domestic space. Finally, through the notion of the uncanny, this article suggests we may also attempt a queer critical reading that, following Sue-Ellen Case's theoretical encouragement, works 'at the site of ontology' rather than in a gender and identity politics hinged on representation.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

© 2007 The Author(s)


  • The uncanny
  • queer theory
  • dissident sexualities
  • the closet
  • heteronormativity
  • Sigmund Freud


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