The Wallflower Avant-Garde argues for the importance of a strain of modernist formalism based in ekphrasis, the literary imitation of the visual arts. Often associated with a conservative aesthetic of wholeness, permanence, and autonomy, ekphrastic writing also involves excess, failure, andmimesis, conjuring an aesthetic sense of closure and unity out of impossible imitations. This choreography of imitation and autonomy resonates with many of the foundational insights of queer theory: the way it situates identity as an effect of performativity, artifice, and mimesis. Unlike many queertheorists, however, this book insists that we value both the imitations and the aspirations that guide them, underlining not only the illusoriness of identity but also its allure. This more capacious formalism allows aspects of modernists aesthetic that have seemed regressive or repressive to beread as generative forms of stasis, quiet, reserve, shyness, and so on.