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Professor of English, Clemson University

About Me

I specialize in English Renaissance literature and queer studies. I also work as a Spanish literary translator and creative nonfiction writer. 


I received my BA from the University of Virginia in 2001 and my PhD from Indiana University in 2007. Prior to joining the Clemson English Department in 2010, I was an assistant professor of English at Ball State University. 


My first monograph, Playing Dirty: Sexuality and Waste in Early Modern Comedy (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), analyzes queer constructions of the body politic in works by Ben Jonson, John Harington, William Shakespeare, Thomas Nashe, and Geoffrey Chaucer. My second monograph, Members of His Body: Shakespeare, Paul, and a Theology of Nonmonogamy (Fordham University Press, 2017), argues for a queer reading of Ephesians 5 via an analysis of marriage in four Shakespeare plays. Most recently, I have co-authored a book on dc Talk’s 1995 album Jesus Freak for Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series. 


As a translator, my works include a bilingual edition of Sergio Loo’s collection of prose poems Operación al Cuerpo Enfermo (The Operating System, 2018), as well as Fausto Alzati Fernández's memoir about addiction and Depeche Mode, Something so Trivial (Literalia, 2019).


My creative nonfiction has appeared in journals including Tupelo Quarterly, Hotel Amerika, and Benington Review


My current projects include an introduction to queer theory for students of literature and a translation of Pablo Martínez Zárate’s academic satire Esteban’s Notebooks.


wstockt@clemson.edu 

Books

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The 33 1/3 B-Sides: New Essays by 33 1/3 Authors on Beloved and Underrated Albums

Co-edited with D. Gilson. Bloomsbury, 2019.


If given another chance to write for the series, which albums would 33 1/3 authors focus on the second time around? This anthology features compact essays from past 33 1/3 authors on albums that consume them, but about which they did not write. It explores often overlooked and underrated albums that may not have inspired their 33 1/3 books, but have played a large part in their own musical cultivation.

Questions central to the essays include: How has this album influenced your worldview? How does this album intersect with your other creative and critical pursuits? How does this album index a particular moment in cultural history? In your own personal history? Why is the album perhaps under-the-radar, or a buried treasure? Why can't you stop listening to it? Bringing together 33 1/3's rich array of writers, critics, and scholars, this collection probes our taste in albums, our longing for certain tunes, and our desire to hit repeat--all while creating an expansive "must-listen" list for readers in search of unexplored musical territories. Available here.

dc Talk's Jesus Freak

Co-authored with D. Gilson. Bloomsbury, 2018.


Late in the Reagan years, three young men at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University formed the Christian rap group dc Talk. The trio put out a series of records that quickly secured their place at the forefront of contemporary Christian music. But, with their fourth studio album Jesus Freak (1995), dc Talk staked a powerful claim on the worldly market of alternative music, becoming an evangelical group with secular selling power.

This book sets out to study this mid-90s crossover phenomenon-a moment of cultural convergence between Christian and secular music and an era of particular political importance for American evangelicalism. Written by two queer scholars with evangelical pasts, Jesus Freak explores the importance of a multifarious album with complex ideas about race, sexuality, gender, and politics-an album where dc Talk wonders, “What will people do when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak?” and evangelical fans stake a claim for Christ-like coolness in a secular musical world. Available here.

Members of His Body: Shakespeare, Paul, and a Theology of Nonmonogamy

Fordham University Press, 2017.


Building on scholarship regarding both biblical and early modern sexualities, Members of His Body protests the Christian defense of marital monogamy. According to the Paul who authors 1 Corinthians, believers would do well to remain single and focus instead on the messiah’s return. According to the Paul who authors Ephesians, plural marriage is the telos of Christian community. Turning to Shakespeare, Will Stockton shows how marriage functions in The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and The Winter’s Tale as a contested vehicle of Christian embodiment. Juxtaposing the marital theologies of the different Pauls and their later interpreters, Stockton reveals how these plays explore the racial, religious, and gender criteria for marital membership in the body of Christ. These plays further suggest that marital jealousy and paranoia about adultery result in part from a Christian theology of shared embodiment: the communion of believers in Christ. Available here.

Sex before Sex: Figuring the Act in Early Modern England

Co-edited with James Bromley. University of Minnesota Press, 2013.


What is sex exactly? Does everyone agree on a definition? And does that definition hold when considering literary production in other times and places? Sex before Sex makes clear that we cannot simply transfer our contemporary notions of what constitutes a sex act into the past and expect them to be true for the people who were then reading literature and watching plays. The contributors confront how our current critical assumptions about definitions of sex restrict our understanding of representations of sexuality in early modern England.


Drawing attention to overlooked forms of sexual activity in early modern culture, from anilingus and interspecies sex to “chin-chucking” and convivial drinking, Sex before Sex offers a multifaceted view of what sex looked like before the term entered history. Through incisive interpretations of a wide range of literary texts, including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost, the figure of Lucretia, and pornographic poetry, this collection queries what might constitute sex in the absence of a widely accepted definition and how a historicized concept of sex affects the kinds of arguments that can be made about early modern sexualities. Available here.

Playing Dirty: Sexuality and Waste in Early Modern Comedy

University of Minnesota Press, 2011.


Playing Dirty is full of dirty jokes. Arguing that the early modern excremental body is in many ways an erotic body, Will Stockton—with humor and dry wit—reads psychoanalytic theory through early modern comedies, claiming that it is helpful, rather than inimical, to the project of historicizing the body.


Noting that psychoanalysis has traditionally operated in a paranoid framework that relentlessly produces evidence of the same “truths,” Stockton turns to a minority practice in psychoanalysis—associated with Jean Laplanche—to develop a more “playful” analytic for literary studies. This analytic brings together different discourses of sexuality and the body and allows individual writings to reform psychoanalytic wisdom about sexuality, waste, and comedy. Through original explorations of works by William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Sir John Harington, Thomas Nashe, and Geoffrey Chaucer, Stockton further encourages the reconciliation of psychoanalysis and queer historicism. He focuses in large part on the less-often-read texts of the early modern English canon, assessing the ways in which these books have been purged from the canon in the name of generic purity.


Playing Dirty builds on recent calls by Renaissance and medieval queer scholars for a method of literary analysis that is less constrained by the boundaries of periodicity and the supposed exigencies of historicism. To take Playing Dirty seriously is to accept its invitation to “play”—to queerly disrupt the modern divide in moving promiscuously between texts past and present. Available here.

Queer Renaissance Historiography: Backward Gaze

Co-edited with Vin Nardizzi and Stephen Guy-Bray. Ashgate. 2009.


Dealing with questions of the meaning of eroticism in Renaissance England and its separation from other affective relations, Queer Renaissance Historiography examines the distinctive arrangement of sexuality during this period, and the role that queer theory has played in our understanding of this arrangement. As such this book not only reflects on the practice of writing a queer history of Renaissance England, but also suggests new directions for this practice.


Queer Renaissance Historiography collects original contributions from leading experts, participating in a range of critical conversations whilst prompting scholars and students alike to reconsider what we think we know about sex and sexuality in Renaissance England. Presenting ethical, political and critical analyses of Early Modern texts, this book sets the tone for future scholarship on Renaissance sexualities, making a timely intervention in theoretical and methodological debates. Available here.

Translations

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Something so Trivial

By  Fausto Alzati Fernández. Literalia, 2019.


“This book is not an exorcism,” the narrator warns. Nor is it a confessional story or a lamentation. "This book is a declaration of friendship, written on behalf of my demons.” With poignant lucidity, the narrator reflects on the nature of addiction in Mexico at the turn of the century, in which one can already anticipate the social debacle caused by drugs. Among deep reflections on Buddhism, psychoanalysis and philosophy, each chapters is a tribute to Depeche Mode's most emblematic album, Violator. To fully understand it, readers must enter this story ready to open their senses to new experiences. Available here.

Operación al Cuerpo Enfermo / Operation on a Malignant Body

By Sergio Loo. The Operating System, 2018.


This dual-language collection of prose poems and diagrams leverages the late prolific queer Mexican poet Sergio Loo’s diagnosis with cancer (an Ewing’s Sarcoma in the left leg) to explore anatomical, linguistic, and social relationships between queerness and disability. With an introduction from Loo’s friend, Mexican writer Jonathan Minila. Available here. 

Creative Nonfiction

Child's Play

Adoption Profile: An Archive

Adoption Profile: An Archive

Adoption Profile: An Archive

Adoption Profile: An Archive

Adoption Profile: An Archive

A Week of Recreation

Adoption Profile: An Archive

Parenting in the Negative

Hotel Amerika 18 (2020): 73-79

Parenting in the Negative

Portrait of a Tenured Professor as Billy Joel

Parenting in the Negative

Portrait of a Tenured Professor as Billy Joel

Portrait of a Tenured Professor as Billy Joel

Portrait of a Tenured Professor as Billy Joel