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Cruising the Dead RiverDavid Wojnarowicz and New York's Ruined Waterfront$
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Fiona Anderson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226603612

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226603896.001.0001

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Cruising Ghosts: David Wojnarowicz’s Queer Antecedents

Cruising Ghosts: David Wojnarowicz’s Queer Antecedents

(p.96) 3 Cruising Ghosts: David Wojnarowicz’s Queer Antecedents
Cruising the Dead River

Fiona Anderson

University of Chicago Press

As Wojnarowicz’s waterfront writing developed in the late 1970s, he looked for new ways to represent the strange temporality of the ruined waterfront. The figure of the ghost became the ideal symbol with which to articulate the experience of cruising there. He produced the photographic series Arthur Rimbaud in New York, placing the nineteenth-century French poet in sites that Wojnarowicz himself frequented, including the derelict piers and warehouses of the waterfront. In his writing, Wojnarowicz took up cross-temporal invitations of connection and erotic communion found in the work of writers such as Walt Whitman and William S. Burroughs. In this chapter, I explore the development of Wojnarowicz’s ghostly idiolect in the late 1970s and early 1980s through a hauntological investigation of my own, examining the erotic possibilities it offered him and the queer new personal temporalities he generated through it. Through close reading, I trace a cross-generational history of literature in ruins and by the sea that positions Wojnarowicz’s waterfront writing within a broader social and cultural context, effecting a rich, interdisciplinary interpretation of his creative practice, as well as exploring his own influence on contemporary artists like Emily Roysdon.

Keywords:   cruising, hauntology, David Wojnarowicz, William S.Burroughs, poetry, influence, queer

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