$60 billion and counting: Carry trade-related losses and their effect on CDS spreads in Central and Eastern Europe

Raphael Auer and Simon Wehrmüller try to answer how big are Western European bank exposures in Eastern Europe in Vox EU:

Driven by the desire to catch up with Western Europe in terms of investment and consumption, and deceived by the low nominal interest rates on the Swiss franc, the euro, or the US dollar, households and non-banking sector firms in several Central and Eastern European (CEE) economies have accumulated the equivalent of $250 billion worth of debt denominated in a foreign currency. In Austria, mostly due to its proximity to Switzerland and the significant interest rate differential between the Swiss franc and the euro, total foreign currency exposure is equivalent to well over $100 billion.

What was advertised by both local and international banks to be a bargain has turned out to be a costly lesson for the entrepreneurs and households that took out these loans. For example, over the course of the last 6 months, the Swiss franc has appreciated by 31% against the Polish zloty, while the Hungarian forint has lost 14% against the euro. Given the large financial positions, these sharp currency appreciations have led to enormous aggregate losses for the borrowing nations.

Private households and firms have suffered a large part of the losses, but much of the currency exposure is concentrated in households and firms that are better equipped to bear the risks, thus somewhat mitigating the adverse real effects of these exposures (see Brown et al. 2008, Beer et al. 2008). Yet market participants anticipate that the government will ultimately bail out the private sector vis-à-vis its resident banks, thus also strongly affecting the outlook for public finances and market perceptions of sovereign default.

Come Together: Our Need to Cooperate

From Scientific American:

Synchrony-groups-behavior-cooperate_1 The natural world seems intent on synchronizing. Schools of fish, flocks of birds, herds of wildebeest, and swarms of fireflies all effortlessly coordinate their actions with one another. A recent study published by Scott Wiltermuth and Chip Heath of Stanford University in the journal Psychological Science, suggests that humans are no different. In fact, our ability to synchronize might be one of the most important developments in our evolution as a social species, a skill we need to successfully choreograph our dance moves at parties—and also, perhaps, to live together in stable, cooperative societies.

Examples of the power of human synchrony abound—from the awe-inspiring opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics to the fear-inspiring Nazi military march, to the ridiculous communal dances in which we find ourselves at weddings. Who hasn’t bad-mouthed the chicken dance in the buffet line and then been drawn in by that insufferable staccato? Like a Siren, the allure of synchrony pulls you into the group.

More here.

more pirate thoughts

Gallery-Somali-pirates-Pi-003 from 3QD pal Matthew Power:

When Jefferson was inaugurated president in 1801, he ordered all tributes to stop. Without informing Congress, Jefferson dispatched the Navy to the Mediterranean. By August 1801, U.S. frigates were engaged in open-sea battles with the corsairs off the shores of Tripoli. The war was settled by 1805, but with the distractions of the War of 1812—and the United States’ reengagement in privateering along its own coast—American shipping was again plundered in the Mediterranean, and ransoms were again paid for prisoners. In 1815 the Navy returned, capturing the flagship of the Algerian navy. The U.S. formed a coalition with the British and Dutch, who ultimately bombarded Algiers into submission. The Second Barbary War ended in a treaty guaranteeing the U.S. freedom of shipping. The age of imperialism commenced, and within a century most of Africa had been carved up into colonies. The British and Italians would eventually split what today has become the violent, broken, non-state of Somalia. Which brings us to the present and raises the question: Are the values espoused by the Somali pirates so very different from those upon which America was founded? They work hard, they revere property, and they believe in the pursuit of happiness. They aren’t Islamists and bear no natural alliance with the would-be theocrats of the now ousted Islamic Courts Union. If they have kindred spirits today, they are more likely to be found in the boardrooms of Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Theft has become so codified, our commerce so digitized, that it is small wonder the robbing of actual ships laden with actual goods seems so romantically anachronistic. But all the ransoms paid to the Somali pirates would amount to roughly 0.002 percent of the bailout paid to AIG.

more from Lapham’s Quarterly here.

a boxer in a godforsaken town


ROBERTO BOLAÑO once wrote a story with Mijares’s hometown as both setting and title. “Gómez Palacio” is not a happy tale. The protagonist, a poet exiled from Mexico City to teach a handful of hapless writing students, dismisses the place as “some godforsaken town in northern Mexico.” Much of the city indeed looks as though a stiff wind would blow it over. Gómez Palacio is one of the principal municipalities of the Laguna (which is actually an agglomeration of four adjacent cities); so is Torreón, where I moved from Chicago in 2005, essentially to learn Spanish. It didn’t feel like exile to me, but there’s no denying the harshness of the environment. The weather is extreme: windstorms, floods, and, for ten months of the year, a desert heat so unyielding that local men call the Laguna La Ciudad de Huevos Congelados, the City of Frozen Balls, for the ice-cold beers they squeeze between their legs. The city’s principal landmark is an open-armed Jesus statue on a foothill overlooking Torreón. With charming disingenuousness, locals describe the statue as a reflection of the Laguneros’ hospitality and decency. No one mentions it’s a copy of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.

more from Triplecanopy here.

Tuesday Poem

These Words Are Synonymous Now
Juan Felipe Herrera

On the way to school I tell my son
remember to read—read fast. At every curb
think of three things, examine the faces
the eyes—especially the eyes, be quick.

The other day I picked up an old paperback
Houdini, The Handcuff King who slipped off
Scotland Yard’s shackles in minutes.

Holding the book in my left hand, I churn it
with the fleshy mound of my palm my thumb
makes small circles on the cover.
These word are synonymous now:





I am working on a play—the world in twenty years.
There is a sentry, a clown, and warrior; the slave colony
on the verge of escape from the video eye. The eye
sees everything. Picture the slender man in the supermarket
holding up a small can of cranberry sauce—weighing
the contents he is concerned with a stamp-size
inscription. Ingredients:

sodium fructose,
pectin, artificial flavoring.

Tomorrow his daughter will bleed from the mouth;
the blood will glisten hot, wavy—her boyfriend drinks.
She runs to him; he traps her when daddy sleeps.

There are too many recorded tragedies. No one listens.
Listen to the little bronze gears inside the computer;
everyone owns one, delivers upon the keys. Listen again:

the A
the Z
the Asterisk
slapping, so quiet,
mournful, so pious.


Big words. My friends are afraid to speak them.
The television offers brilliant young men.

immense shoulder braces tumble across the green,
a pigskin against the solar plexus, a broken leg
juts out wanting to kick the audience, sweltering,
saliva on shirts, ribbons, cold bottle Pepsi’s.
I work toward good things, play inexpensive games—
a miniature clay house with two black windows,
pearled marbles with yellowish zig-zag lines,
a funny thumb-size, plastic, German lugar pistol.
I surprise myself. I finally figured people out.

The Rhyme-Master, Elder King of Ink
who bequeathes Grace upon the Speechless.

The Child-Molester who receives tribute
from his political colleagues.

The Daughter-Monkey caged by her own aging mother
who will never talk to another man again.

I think of my mother. Tiny ancient—who saved broken birds
from the sidewalk rubbing their heads with herbs who
waited nineteen years for me to return. I never did.
I read about the Thalamus, the intricate web of the brain.
My friends use these words too:

Literary production
Feminist Art
Ideology—the Underclass

while our little mothers shrink,
die without us. We never say Sacrifice. It smells of

My Aunt Lela is caught in a second-story above a ham and eggs
diner. She’s eighty-four when she walks she falls
on the cement every time her legs give out.
I tell her to use a cane like my mother did.

People don’t like to hear this, they say poetry must have
a fancy curl in the center—don’t complain, they say.
I ask them so you have better figures?

In the United States
the per capita income is $27,000 a year
in Malawi Africa it’s $160 in Nayarit Mexico up
on Indian land—a bowl of corn squash and seeds.

I sit at the library, gaze across the table; trees, windows
are continuous; the telephone pole connects with the leaves
darkness crawls up the bark, tears daylight to pieces.
These are labels and empty synonyms:

Poetry and chalkdust.
Horror and humanity.
Laughter and spit.

I tell my son—that’s good, learn the cello, listen to
its womb, take your time, observe, survive.

from: After Aztlan; Godine Publishers, 1992

forsaken favorites


I don’t see the point of playing this game unless I make it a variant on the one where everybody owns up to the book he or she is most ashamed never to have read. The fallen idol whose fate leaves me by far the most uneasy—uncertain, that is, whether the fall is his or mine—is Manet. It keeps happening without my being wholly aware of it. This spring in Chicago, for instance, I realized at the end of a morning in the Art Institute that I had spent long minutes absorbed in the naiveties of a Delacroix lion hunt—wondering at the way the absurd wish-fulfillment called “North Africa” managed to focus and concentrate the painter’s energies, producing a green and blue like nobody else’s—and I’d never looked, for more than a moment or two, at Manet’s street-people on the opposite wall of the gallery. “Velazquez kitsch,” I found myself murmuring when I did. Whereas what Delacroix had done with Rubens! I think the process began some years ago in Munich, where Manet’s Luncheon in the Studio hangs—or did then—next to an early, simple-minded Cézanne called The Railway Crossing. I remember feeling a little guilty at the depth of my boredom with the Luncheon, and then abandoning myself, guiltless and gleeful, to Cézanne’s preposterous piece-by-piece assembly of a world.

more from Threepenny Review here.

New nucleotide could revolutionize epigenetics

Brett Norman in Eureka Alert:

ScreenHunter_06 Apr. 21 12.48 Anyone who studied a little genetics in high school has heard of adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine – the A,T,G and C that make up the DNA code. But those are not the whole story. The rise of epigenetics in the past decade has drawn attention to a fifth nucleotide, 5-methylcytosine (5-mC), that sometimes replaces cytosine in the famous DNA double helix to regulate which genes are expressed. And now there's a sixth. In experiments to be published online Thursday by Science, researchers reveal an additional character in the mammalian DNA code, opening an entirely new front in epigenetic research.

The work, conducted in Nathaniel Heintz's Laboratory of Molecular Biology at The Rockefeller University, suggests that a new layer of complexity exists between our basic genetic blueprints and the creatures that grow out of them. “This is another mechanism for regulation of gene expression and nuclear structure that no one has had any insight into,” says Heintz, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “The results are discrete and crystalline and clear; there is no uncertainty. I think this finding will electrify the field of epigenetics.”

Genes alone cannot explain the vast differences in complexity among worms, mice, monkeys and humans, all of which have roughly the same amount of genetic material. Scientists have found that these differences arise in part from the dynamic regulation of gene expression rather than the genes themselves. Epigenetics, a relatively young and very hot field in biology, is the study of nongenetic factors that manage this regulation.

More here.

To Fight Stigmas, Start With Treatment

From New York Times:

Mind-190 Last fall, British television broadcast a reality program called “How Mad Are You?” The plot was simple: 10 volunteers lived together for a week in a castle in the Kent countryside and took part in a series of challenges. The twist was the lack of a prize. Five of the volunteers had a history of a serious mental illness, like obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder, and five did not. The challenges, meant to elicit latent symptoms, included mucking out a cowshed, performing stand-up comedy and taking psychological tests.

But the real test came at the end of the week.

Could a panel of experts — a psychiatrist, psychologist and a psychiatric nurse — tell them apart? They could not. After watching hours of videotape, the experts correctly identified only two of the five people with a history of mental illness. And they misidentified two of the healthy people as having a mental illness. The point was made: even trained professionals cannot reliably determine mental illness by appearances alone.

More here.

Swing Territory, Part I

Douglas Henry Daniels, One O’clock Jump: The Unforgettable History of the Oklahoma City Blue Devils (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006, 274 pp.)

Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop—A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, xi + 274 pp.)

by Todd Bryant Weeks

Bluedevilsjump The Oklahoma City Blue Devils, the ne plus ultra of all the territory bands, still command legendary status among generations of jazz musicians, scholars, critics, and collectors. The band’s undiminished reputation is based, in part, on the paucity of recorded evidence (a sole 78) but also on the illustrious assemblage of players who passed through the group’s ranks between 1923 and 1933. Many of these musicians (Walter Page, Buster Smith, Eddie Durham, Hot Lips Page, Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, and Lester Young among them) were virtuosos who made definitive statements on their instruments, and in the process helped to redefine the notion of what it meant to swing. As a working big band, the Blue Devils could reputedly tackle complicated ensemble passages with the kind of precision and assurance unmatched in the highly competitive dance halls of Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and other towns from the Mexican border to Omaha. That they apparently worked from head arrangements only made them all the more remarkable. Several Blue Devils went on to become key members of the Bennie Moten Orchestra, and, in what is now the stuff of legend, Motenites went on to become Basieites. Accordingly, for those whose idea of swing begins and ends with Basie, the Blue Devils may be said to sit at the center of the big band Vorstellung. In addition, their commonwealth approach to running a band—the musicians shared equally in all profits and expenses—has long endeared them to writers who champion the notion of jazz as a democratic process.

Given the dearth of research on southwestern jazz, aficionados have long awaited the publication of these books. The more problematic of the two is One O’Clock Jump: The Unforgettable History of the Oklahoma Blue Devils, by Douglas Henry Daniels, a professor of history and black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Daniels’s narrative, interwoven with band members’ biographies, is a kind of patchwork of stories and assorted facts that occasionally cohere into a more composite picture of the Oklahoma City music world in the 1920s and 1930s. His previous jazz book, Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester “Pres” Young, demonstrated his facility with obscure sources (e.g., parish records in backwater communities like Woodville, Mississippi) and this new work is equally research-intensive. His genealogical research, which unearthed new data on Buster Smith, Hot Lips Page, and others, lends depth and authenticity to the book. He exhaustively plumbed the Oklahoma City Black Dispatch, Kansas City Call, Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, and lesser-known papers such as the Sioux City Journal, the St. Louis Argus, and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. He also interviewed Blue Devils Buster Smith, Leonard Chadwick, Le Roy “Snake” Whyte, and Abe Bolar extensively. Through this painstaking research, Daniels traces the band in its various incarnations from their early days in the dance halls and lodges of Oklahoma City to their final, infamous gig in the mountains of West Virginia. The author provides illuminating accounts of each musician’s early history, such as singer Jimmy Rushing’s 1920s Los Angeles period and his family life in the African American Oklahoma City neighborhood known as “Deep Deuce.” Here Rushing worked in a confectionary–sandwich shop operated by his father before becoming floor manager at the Blue Devils’ Oklahoma City headquarters, Slaughter’s Hall. On this gleaming dance floor, the youthful, trimmer “James” Rushing set the tempos for the musicians and demonstrated the latest steps for the dancers.

Read more »

The Art of Resistance: Under Siege

By Maniza Naqvi

Paintings 021 While Israeli F-18s created sonic booms and closed the open skies above; and the barbed wiring for the fences and the pre-fabricated planks for the wall surrounding Gaza steadily settled down as the facts on the ground; and while Colin Powell droned on about the “roadmap for peace” on CNN; and the searing heat of the day closed in; I made my way through the streets of the crowded city to the Arts and Crafts Village at the Gaza Municipality. It was the June of 2002.

I hated being in Gaza. Even though it was for a short time with the date for departure certain and with the ease of getting out assured, even then, I hated being there. I couldn't breath. The fear of the Israelis with their killing machines, overhead and all around, created an uncontrollable feeling of illness. I was eager and relieved to leave Gaza which I was going to do in a few hours and I was feeling guilty because my colleagues would stay on in this pressure cooker atmosphere. I was anxious about the upcoming ordeal at the check point for entering and leaving Gaza. Here insolent, battle geared and almost to the last one, oversexed and beautiful Israeli, boys and girls maybe no more then eighteen or nineteen years old, heavily armed and in military uniforms did mandatory time in the Israeli Defense Force as prison guards of the concentration camp of Gaza. Every young Israeli citizen does service in the military. This is how Israel has raised and trained its young. It has made them golden, muscular and cruel. Their job it seemed was to insult, humiliate, harass and terrorize anyone going in or out of Gaza. Any reference or suggestion to their being prison guards of a concentration camp with one and a half million inmates was only met with a cold almost vacant eyed stare of contempt, guffaws and a longer wait.

Weary, sweat soaked Palestinian men, women, the elderly, the sick, and children all waited outside in long lines of desperate people making futile attempts at getting out to their menial jobs as farm hands and construction workers on the now Israel owned land and settlements. They waited alongside the checkpoint barricades and in the crosshair of sharp shooters’ weapons trained on them. The foreigners, like me, trying to get in and who waited inside the checkpoint seemed merely to be essential menial workers too, who were part of a bigger more complex establishment which enabled the occupation to continue. Officials, bureaucrats, aid workers of international agencies took on the task and responsibility from the occupier of feeding and keeping alive an interned population of over 1.5 million people.

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Werner Herzog: Beyond the syphilitic machine

Edward B. Rackley

Even the most subtle and complex artists can’t escape the crudity of synopsis. Grazing the critical literature surrounding Herzog’s films and career, two stock phrases repeat incessantly: ‘man vs. nature’ and ‘Heart of Darkness parable’. These signposts may guide the uninitiated, but as always the map is never the terrain.


Generically speaking, Herzog explores the complexity of man/nature relations in dozens of films and documentaries; his antipathy towards romanticism and Cinema Verité is well known. To reject both fantasy and empiricism as story telling vehicles, where does that leave a director? Because it blurs fact and fiction, Herzog’s method of documentary cinema is rogue. To contrast his approach with Cinema Verité, in interviews he cites the Heideggerian concept of ‘ecstatic truth’ (remember ‘unconcealment’, fellow philosophers?). The work of the author lies in finding friction between the facts, enough to create light or 'illumination' according to Herzog.

‘The truth of accountants’

In 1999 Herzog released a twelve-point manifesto called ‘Lessons of Darkness’, borrowing the title of his silent recording of devastated oil fields in Kuwait following the first Iraq war. Much of the manifesto is tongue in cheek, Point Three captures Herzog’s balancing act between fact and insight, where fact is a “rock beneath which greater truths hide.” Facts are superficial truths, the “truth of accountants,” the snapshots of tourists. To film facts and reject fabrication is to confuse fact for truth; such orthodoxies “plow only stones.” Illumination, the goal of successful cinema, happens because “facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.”

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A Tribute to European Trains Twenty or Thirty Years Old

by Morgan Meis

A friend put his finger on it exactly. You want the older trains, the trains with the compartments enclosing six or eight seats. You want the trains with the sun-washed drapes and the yellow-tinged headrest, marked by decades of not-so-recently-washed hair. You want the train with the sliding glass door that lets you into a narrow hallway along the left side of the train car. You would prefer the train with a rudimentary toilet that flushes by means of a foot pedal, in which, as a man, you can watch yourself pee straight down through the rusty tube onto the track rushing by in a ruffle of wooden slats below. Clickety-clak, clickety-clak. “Do not use the toilet while the train is in or near the station,” says the sign.

Europe is a train. The countries are all so close together, train close. A plane won’t do it, the fly by is too fast. You must fly over vast quantities of land or sea to get something out of an airplane ride. You have to stare out the window for hours at the unchanging surface of the ocean or the mesmerizing openness of the American plains. That’s when the immensity of it gets to you, that’s when you understand something about space. To understand space in Europe you have to be on a train.

You sit near the window in your compartment. There are the forward-sitters and the backward-sitters. Both have their logic. Forward-sitters like to see what is coming, they tend to feel positive about the European Union. Backward-sitters are a more melancholy lot. Benjaminian in temperament, they think of Europe as something you grab glimpses of after the fact, after it has already passed us by. Thus we see that space has something to do with time. Thomas Mann said it like this, “All good things take time; so do all great things. In other words, space will have its time. It is a familiar feeling with me that there is a sort of hubris, and a great superficiality, in those who would take away from space or stint it of the time naturally bound up with it.” That’s an extremely European thought. I’m not sure it’s even true, but I like that fact that he said it. Of course, Thomas Mann was Europe. I suppose then, by logical extension, that Mann was a train.

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The Next Great Discontinuity

Part Two: The Data Deluge
(Link to Part One)

By Daniel Rourke

Speed is the elegance of thought, which mocks stupidity, heavy and slow. Intelligence thinks and says the unexpected; it moves with the fly, with its flight. A fool is defined by predictability…

But if life is brief, luckily, thought travels as fast as the speed of light. In earlier times philosophers used the metaphor of light to express the clarity of thought; I would like to use it to express not only brilliance and purity but also speed. In this sense we are inventing right now a new Age of Enlightenment…

A lot of… incomprehension… comes simply from this speed. I am fairly glad to be living in the information age, since in it speed becomes once again a fundamental category of intelligence.

Michel Serres, Conversations on Science, Culture and Time

Human beings are often described as the great imitators:

Termite mound vs skyscraperWe perceive the ant and the termite as part of nature. Their nests and mounds grow out of the Earth. Their actions are indicative of a hidden pattern being woven by natural forces from which we are separated. The termite mound is natural, and we, the eternal outsiders, sitting in our cottages, our apartments and our skyscrapers, are somehow not. Through religion, poetry, or the swift skill of the craftsman smearing pigment onto canvas, humans aim to encapsulate that quality of existence that defies simple description. The best art, or so it is said, brings us closer to attaining a higher truth about the world that remains elusive from language, that perhaps the termite itself embodies as part of its nature. Termite mounds are beautiful, but were built without a concept of beauty. Termite mounds are mathematically precise, yet crawling through their intricate catacombs cannot be found one termite in comprehension of even the simplest mathematical constituent. In short, humans imitate and termites merely are.

This extraordinary idea is partly responsible for what I referred to in Part One of this article as The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness. It leads us to consider not only the human organism as distinct from its surroundings, but it also forces us to separate human nature from its material artefacts. We understand the termite mound as integral to termite nature, but are quick to distinguish the axe, the wheel, the book, the skyscraper and the computer network from the human nature that bore them.

When we act, through art, religion or with the rational structures of science, to interface with the world our imitative (mimetic) capacity has both subjective and objective consequence. Our revelations, our ideas, stories and models have life only insofar as they have a material to become invested through. The religion of the dance, the stone circle and the summer solstice is mimetically different to the religion of the sermon and the scripture because the way it interfaces with the world is different.

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The Literature of the Piano

“I’d like piano lessons,” said my daughter, and, yes, of course, I said, that would be terrific. She was only six. How could she know that she was giving me permission to relapse into yet another time-wasting obsession, with the possibility of acquiring yet another library on a subject? Now, under cover of being a good parent, I could once again dive into a literature, slip off to internet chat rooms late at night, wander into stores that had been around forever but that I had never had an excuse to explore, and contemplate an expensive purchase. But mainly I like to read about that kind of thing.

“Of course,” I said, benevolently, the noble father. But I was thrilled; such interests had been largely off limits since donning the responsible hoodie of the parent. In earlier years, I had been there with photography, wooden boats, ice hockey, tube amplifiers, all pursuits offering a deep literature, and the chance to spend money. Right away, I knew full well where I was headed: Worst of all are the Internet forums, where I will undoubtedly cruise late at night, recklessly picking up useful-seeming advice from strangers hiding behind screen names. (Why does Dennis care quite so much about the grey market, one must wonder?)

Not all interests spawn literature of equal quality. The literature of the tube amplifier and the literature of hockey are as one in their paucity. Tube amplifiers are lacking an oeuvre, certainly, because, well, they just kind of sit there. The dearth of good hockey writing is a little more mysterious, but it may be a sport that knocks the lyricism out of people.

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Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, 1950-2009

15eve190 Eve Sedgwick died a week ago. The obituary in the NYT:

Ms. Sedgwick broke new ground when, drawing on feminist scholarship and the work of the French poststructuralist Michel Foucault, she began teasing out the hidden socio-sexual subplots in writers like Charles Dickens and Henry James. In a 1983 essay on Dickens’s novel “Our Mutual Friend,” she drew attention to the homoerotic element in the obsessive relationship between Eugene Wrayburn and Bradley Headstone, rivals for the love of Lizzie Hexam but emotionally most fully engaged when facing off against each other.

Several of her essays became lightning rods for critics of poststructuralism, multiculturalism and gay studies — most notoriously “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” a paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association in 1989. In it, Ms. Sedgwick argued that Austen’s descriptions of the restless Marianne Dashwood in “Sense and Sensibility” should be understood in relation to contemporary thought on the evils of “self-abuse.”

Such subtexts, she insisted, are woven throughout literary texts, and the job of criticism is to ferret them out, especially the repressed themes of same-sex love.

“It’s about trying to understand different kinds of sexual desire and how the culture defines them,” she told The New York Times in 1998, explaining the function of queer theory. “It’s about how you can’t understand relations between men and women unless you understand the relationship between people of the same gender, including the possibility of a sexual relationship between them.”