Save

Who’s Afraid of Canaan’s Curse?


Genesis 9:18–29 and the Challenge of Reparative Reading


In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: Jennifer Knust1
View More View Less
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution

Purchase

Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

€29.95$34.95

The story of Noah’s curse of his grandson Canaan (Gen. 9:18–29) is especially well suited to an interpretive style Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has labeled “paranoid reading.” Oft exploited by those invested in xenophobia and racism, this passage appears to present an intrinsically identitarian plot that cannot be shaken off, either by historicizing or by other kinds of critical engagement. Indeed, historical critical analysis has tended to confirm rather than undermine the story’s determination to justify disinheritance on the basis of some vague form of sexual perversion. In her later work, however, Sedgwick began to call such paranoid readings into question, advocating a more open, descriptive, and anti-foundational approach to texts and histories. These “reparative reading” practices cede paranoia’s determination to be “in the know” to descriptive multiplicity and more limited acts of noticing. Inspired by Sedgwick’s insights, this essay considers the advantages of paranoid reading strategies, especially when it comes to this story, even as it acknowledges the serious limits of such readings, which have yet to succeed if the goal is to undermine the stickiness of sexualized and racialized blaming rooted in this difficult biblical text.


Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 585 187 11
Full Text Views 315 24 1
PDF Views & Downloads 155 70 9