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Remembering Writer and Teacher Christina Crosby

Remembering Writer and Teacher Christina Crosby

Author: Edit Team

January 11, 2021

Lambda Literary mourns the loss of writer and teacher Christina Crosby. Crosby died on January 5, 2021 of pancreatic cancer at the Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, CT. She was 67 years old.

Crosby was the beloved partner of Janet Jakobsen, a Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College; she was also a dear mentor and friend to so many in the LGBTQIA community. A thoughtful educator and an expansive thinker, Crosby was a professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain and The Ends of History: Victorians and the ‘Woman Question’.

Crosby’s final book A Body Undone was published in 2016 to great acclaim, and quickly reached a wide and varied audience. The book was a finalist for the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards in the category of Lesbian/Memoir. Heralded by venues from The New Yorker and The Washington Post to Inside Higher Ed and the Journal of American Culture, A Body Undone chronicles Crosby’s relationship to her “bodymind” following a bicycle accident that left her paralyzed at the age of 50. 

Crosby’s work spoke to a broad readership in disability studies, queer memoir, psychoanalysis and Marxist thought, and feminist, trans, and queer theory. In a signature piece for Guernica,”My Lost Body,” Crosby connected the difficult singularity of individual pain with the communal work of melancholy and of political activism. Building on Douglas Crimp’s canonical work, “Mourning and Militancy,” Crosby drew a thread between AIDS activism and the work of disability justice writ large. In classical psychoanalysis, we are encouraged to mourn rather than melancholically “introject” lost loved ones. But Crosby advocated for a politically-engaged melancholy, where we carry our losses with us–whether those are versions of our lost bodies (as Crosby describes hers, before her accident), or our lost loved ones. Keeping our losses close enables us to fight for better futures, but it does not always–nor need it–heal the wounds of absence. Rather, we keep the wounds open, in remembrance and as a spur to further action. 

In a recent interview with Tristan Taormino in which Crosby spoke to questions of the coronavirus pandemic, disability justice, and anti-racist organizing, Crosby discussed the complexity of our moment in which physical isolation often functions as a form of community care. This paradox is so difficult because, as Crosby said, with her characteristic concision and vehemence, “You address life through touch.” Crosby’s commitment to the power and importance of our relationship to others, and indeed our embodied relations, resonates powerfully; she had a unique capacity to articulate this commitment in language, and to live fully these commitments with her wide circle of friends and loved ones. We grieve along with them the loss of their dear friend, partner, mentor, and we at Lambda Literary grieve ourselves the loss of Christina Crosby as author and profound thinker of the bodymind nexus. Rest in peace and power.

Photo via Duke University

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