Yue Zhuo

Associate Scholar

20152016 Forum on Sex

Yue Zhuo

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Humanities and Humanistic Sciences, 2015-2017
Romance Languages, French

Yue Zhuo’s research and publications focus on cross-genre writings in modern French literature and essayistic writings in modern French philosophy. After a dissertation on the phenomenon of anachronism and archaeological imagination in four idiosyncratic writers (Georges Bataille, Roland Barthes, Pascal Quignard, and Jacques Lacan), she developed separate projects to pursue each author’s unique “against-the-grain” stance and unclassifiable style. Her current approach emphasizes the hidden links between sexuality and religiosity, between autobiography and theory. She has recently completed a book manuscript entitled La force du négatif, Georges Bataille et la question du sacré, and her second book project will be devoted to the notion of the Neutral in late Roland Barthes. She has published on a wide range of topics in twenty-century theory and criticism, as well as on one of the most acclaimed contemporary authors in France, Pascal Quignard. For a list of publications, click here.

The Neutral in Late Barthes

In his College de France lectures, Barthes defines the Neutral as that which outplays (déjoue) or thwarts the binary paradigm. Working from its Latin etymology, ne-uter, which mean neither one or the other, Barthes uses the word to refer to a genre that is neither masculine nor feminine, a group of verbs that is neither active nor passive, a political party that refuses to take sides, or a flower or insect that is unable to reproduce itself. This project looks into the sexual dimension of the Neutral and its social and political implications from the 1970s to the present.  It argues that the notion should not be confused with asexuality, passivity or prudence. Instead, it opens up a plurality of meanings, refusing any fixed classification in sexual orientation or behavior imposed by societal doxa.