Queer Theory across the Atlantic

In 2012-13, France experienced massive demonstrations against the bill on gay marriage. Demonstrators claimed that marriage equality was to be found in “gender theory,” an ideology imported from America. By “gender theory” they meant queer theory in general, and more specifically the work of philosopher Judith Butler. French opponents of gay marriage, supported by the Vatican, attacked school curricula that explored male/female equality, which they claimed was further proof of gender theory's growing empire. They feared that this pro-homosexual propaganda would not only pervert young people, but destroy the French nation itself

Perreau uncovers the various facets of the French response to queer theory, from the mobilization of activists and the seminars of scholars to the emergence of queer media and the decision to translate this or that kind of work. Ironically, perceiving queer theory as a threat to France means overlooking the fact that queer theory itself has been largely inspired by French thinkers. By examining mutual influences across the Atlantic, Perreau analyzes changes in the idea of national identity in France and the United States and offers insight on belonging, education, and the globalization of sexuality.

Selected publications: 

  • Qui a peur de la théorie queer?, Presses de Sciences Po, 2018, 318 pp.
  • Queer Theory: The French Response, Stanford University Press, 2016, 288 pp.
  • “The Power of Theory. Same-Sex Marriage, Education, and Gender Panic in France” in Carlos A. Ball (ed.), After Marriage Equality: The Future of LGBT Rights, New York: NYU Press, 2016, 306-340.
  • “The Queer Mind Through the Transatlantic Looking-Glass,” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 18 (1), 2014, pp. 75-85.
  • “Sexualité et politique en francophonie”, special issue of Politique et Sociétés, co-edited with David Paternotte, vol. 21, n°2, 2012.
  • Le Choix de l’homosexualité. Recherches inédites sur la question gay et lesbienne (ed.), EPEL, 2007, 277 pp. 

Project Lead