- 20th and 21st Century Studies
- African American and African Diaspora Literature
- American Literature and Culture
- Cultural Studies
- Gender Studies
- Race and Ethnicity Studies
- Sexuality Studies
- Transnational Literatures
Associate Professor of English, Dr. Tuhkanen works in the fields of late 19th/early 20th-century American, and particularly African American, literature and its transnational contexts; as well as literary theory, particularly queer theory.
Mikko Tuhkanen. The Essentialist Villain: On Leo Bersani. SUNY Press, 2018.
Since his first publications in the late 1950s, Leo Bersani’s work has influenced numerous scholarly fields, from studies of French modernism and realist fiction to psychoanalytic criticism and film theory. It has occasionally helped precipitate the emergence of new disciplinary fields, such as queer theory in the late 1980s. The Essentialist Villain is the first book-length study of this impressively rich oeuvre. Mikko Tuhkanen tracks the unfolding of Bersani’s onto-ethics/aesthetics, paying particular attention to his persistent references to “essence,” a concept central to classical speculative philosophy, which has fallen into distinct disfavor since the emergence of deconstructive thought. Because of his early influences—particularly Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy—Bersani remains an ontologist through decades when deconstruction seems to have all but disallowed any thought of being. Tuhkanen also locates Bersani’s thought amidst numerous literary, artistic, and philosophical interlocutors, including Deleuze, Freud, Proust, Laplanche, Beckett, Baudelaire, Genet, Leibniz, and others.
E. L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen, eds. The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2014
The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature presents a global history of the field. It is an unprecedented summation of critical knowledge on gay and lesbian literature that also addresses the impact of gay and lesbian literature on cognate fields such as comparative literature and postcolonial studies. Covering subjects from Sappho and the Greeks to queer modernism, diasporic literatures, and responses to the AIDS crisis, this volume is grounded in current scholarship. It presents new critical approaches to gay and lesbian literature that will serve the needs of students and specialists alike.
Mikko Tuhkanen, ed. Leo Bersani: Queer Theory and Beyond. SUNY Press 2014
For more than fifty years, Leo Bersani’s writing has inspired and challenged scholars in the fields of literary criticism and theory, cultural studies, queer theory, psychoanalysis, and film and visual studies. This is the first book-length collection on this important author. The book’s extensive introduction outlines in detail Bersani’s oeuvre, particularly its place in queer thought and his complicated relationships with the fields of queer theory and psychoanalysis. The subsequent contributions by notable scholars in various fields demonstrate the richness and open-endedness of his work. The book concludes with a new interview with Bersani.
E. L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen, eds. Queer Times, Queer Becomings. SUNY Press, 2011
If queer theorists have agreed on anything, it is that for queer thought to have any specificity at all, it must be characterized by becoming, the constant breaking of habits. Queer Times, Queer Becomings explores queer articulations of time and becoming in literature, philosophy, film, and performance. Whether in the contexts of psychoanalysis, the nineteenth-century discourses of evolution and racial sciences, or the daily rhythms of contemporary, familially oriented communities, queerness has always been marked by a peculiar untimeliness, by a lack of proper orientation in terms of time as much as social norms.
Mikko Tuhkanen. The American Optic: Psychoanalysis, Critical Race Theory, and Richard Wright. SUNY Press, 2009
The American Optic charts new territory in the relationship of psychoanalysis to critical race studies. Focusing on the work of Richard Wright and Jacques Lacan, it explore the political and ethical implications of psychoanalysis for African American and other diasporic African cultural texts. Mikko Tuhkanen develops a theory of “racialization” that recasts the genealogy of the Western concept of racial difference as outlined by critical race theory, through the theory of the real, which Lacan developed in his later work.
Journal articles (selected)
- “Leo Bersani’s Speculative Aesthetics,” Postmodern Culture (forthcoming).
- “Being Fascinated: Toward Blanchotian Film Theory,” rev. of Calum Watt, Blanchot and the Moving Image: Fascination and Spectatorship (2017), Postmodern Culture 29.2 (Jan. 2019) (available at https://muse.jhu.edu/article/737723).
- “Losing Real Life: James Baldwin and the Ethics of Trauma,” James Baldwin Review 4 (2018): 114-27 (available at https://www.manchesteropenhive.com/abstract/journals/jbr/4/1/article-p114.xml).
- “A Passion for Sameness: Leo Bersani’s Ontology of Narcissism,” Cultural Critique 99 (Spring 2018): 125-49.
- “Grotesquely Becoming: Tarzan’s Queer Hominization,” diacritics 44.1 (2016): 28-58.
- “Watching Time: James Baldwin and Malcolm X,” James Baldwin Review 2 (2016): 97-125 (available at https://jbr.openlibrary.manchester.ac.uk/index.php/jbr/issue/view/2).
- “Homomonadology: Leo Bersani’s Essentialism,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 25.2 (Summer 2014): 62-100.
- “Scattering Being: Leo Bersani and Diasporic Modernity,” CR: The Centennial Review 13.3 (2013): 53-88.
- “‘Mankind’s Queerest Laboratory’: Richard Wright and the Speed of Decolonization,” Obsidian III 11.2 (Fall/Winter 2010): 74-94.
- “Richard Wright’s Oneiropolitics,” American Literature 82.1 (March 2010): 151-79.
- “Performativity and Becoming,” Cultural Critique 72 (Spring 2009): 1-35.
- “Queer Guerrillas: On Richard Wright’s and Frantz Fanon’s Dissembling Revolutionaries,” Richard Wright Centennial Issue, ed. Jerry W. Ward, Jr., of Mississippi Quarterly 61.4 (Fall 2008): 615-42.
- “James Baldwin on the American Express and the Queer Underground,” English Language Notes 45.2 (Fall/Winter 2007): 123-31.
- “Ontology and Involution,” diacritics 35.3 (Fall 2005): 20-45. [Published in 2007]
- “‘Out of Joint’: Passing, Haunting, and the Time of Slavery in Hagar’s Daughter,” American Literature 79.2 (June 2007): 335-61.
- “Foucault’s Queer Virtualities,” Rhizomes 11/12 (Fall 2005/Spring 2006) www.rhizomes.net.
- “Danzig Time: Dissociative Camp and European Synchrony” (co-authored with Peter Rehberg), SQS: A Journal of Queer Studies in Finland (2007): 43-59. www.helsinki.fi/jarj/sqs/sqs2…/sqs22007rehbergtuhkanen.pdf
- “Of Blackface and Paranoid Knowledge: Richard Wright, Jacques Lacan, and the Ambivalence of Black Minstrelsy,” diacritics 31.2 (Summer 2001): 9-34. [Published in 2003]
- “Breeding (and) Reading: Lesbian Knowledge, Eugenic Discipline, and The Children’s Hour,” Modern Fiction Studies 48.4 (Winter 2002): 1001-40.
- “Binding the Self: Baldwin, Freud, and the Narrative of Subjectivity,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 7.4 (Fall 2001): 553-91.
- “‘A [B]igger’s Place’: Lynching and Specularity in Richard Wright’s ‘Fire and Cloud’ and Native Son,” African American Review 33.1 (Spring 1999): 125-33.
Book chapters (selected)
- “Baldwin and Psychoanalysis,” James Baldwin in Context, ed. D. Quentin Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019), 187-97.
- “Monadological Psychoanalysis: Bersani, Laplanche, Beckett,” Leo Bersani: Queer Theory and Beyond, ed. Tuhkanen (Albany: SUNY P, 2014), 141-65.
- “Rigorously Speculating: An Interview with Leo Bersani,” Leo Bersani: Queer Theory and Beyond, ed. Tuhkanen (Albany: SUNY P, 2014), 279-96.
- “Leo Bersani: Queer Theory and Beyond,” introduction, Leo Bersani: Queer Theory and Beyond, ed. Tuhkanen (Albany: SUNY P, 2014) 1-34.
- “Native Son and Diasporic Modernity,” The Oxford History of the Novel in English, vol. 6: The American Novel, 1870-1940, ed. Priscilla Wald and Michael A. Elliott (Oxford UP, 2014), 517-29.
- “Mestiza Metaphysics,” in Queer Times, Queer Becomings, ed. E. L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen (Albany: SUNY P, 2011), 259-94.
- “The Look of the World: Richard Wright and the Art of Perspective,” A Companion to the American Short Story, ed. Alfred Bendixen and James Nagel (West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 316-27.
- “Queer Hybridity,” in Deleuze and Queer Theory, ed. Chrysanthi Nigianni and Merl Storr (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2009), 92-114.