Failing to be Subjects: On Queerness and Negativity
A JNT Dialogue
JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory
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Eastern Michigan University
Student Center Auditorium
900 Oakwood St.
Ypsilanti, Mi 48197
Date: March 15, 2011
Time: 6-7:30 pm
Refreshments follow in Student Center Art Gallery.
Lauren Berlant and Jack Judith Halberstam
Lauren Berlant bio:
Lauren Berlant is the George M. Pullman Professor of English at the University of Chicago, where she teaches about the intimate public spheres that cross over politics and the ordinary in mass societies. She is author of a national sentimentality trilogy that spans the U.S. 19th century to the present: The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life (1991); The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2008); and The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997). Her next book, Cruel Optimism (2011) looks at the affective components of contemporary intimate publics transnationally, and focuses on the fate of the good life fantasy that accompanies the current capitalist collapse. Other works on public spheres as affect worlds include Our Monica, Ourselves (with Lisa Duggan); the much-anthologized "Sex in Public" in Critical Inquiry (with Michael Warner); as well as two essay collections, Compassion (2004) and Intimacy (2001).
Jack Judith Halberstam bio:
Jack Halberstam, formerly Judith Halberstam, is Professor of English, American Studies, and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. Halberstam works in the areas of popular, visual, and queer culture with an emphasis on subcultures. Halberstam's books include Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters(1995), the ground-breaking Female Masculinity (1998), as well as a co-authored photo/essay, The Drag King Book (1999), and a co-authored anthology, Posthuman Bodies (1995). The latest book, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005), theorizes queer reconfigurations of time and space in relation to subcultural scenes and transgender visibility. Halberstam regularly publishes journalism in venues like BITCH Magazine and The Nation, and has just finished a book titled The Queer Art of Failure due out next year from Duke University Press. Halberstam is working on two other books now, one on "Bats" and another on children and the Holocaust.
Lauren Berlant, "Structures of Unfeeling: Mysterious Skin"
“Structures of Unfeeling: Mysterious Skin" uses Scott Heim's novel and Gregg Araki's film of AIDS, abductions, and the paranoid 90s to think about how to think about underperformed emotion: Berlant's paper gathers up many traditions, from twentieth century avant-gardes through trauma, punk, and indie casualness, to consider the ways in which affective activity appears as inexpressive form, form providing a holding space in the absence of knowing how or wanting to respond to the urgencies of the moment (the historical moment, the sexual moment, the intimate moment, the moment where survival time is always being apprehended, absorbed, and encountered).
Jack Judith Halberstam, "Unbecoming"
Building here on the work of feminists like Saidiya Hartman and Saba Mahmood and locating a queer femininity that refuses resistance and reshapes the meaning of the political in the process, Halberstam's paper offers up in the Bersani tradition narrated and extended by Heather Love in her book Feeling Backward, a queer theory of masochism and negative affect that revels in failures, builds around an anti-heroic, disintegrating subject and in the process recasts the project of thinking sex and gender. Halberstam charts a genealogy of an anti-social or anti-humanist or counter-intuitive feminism that arises out of queer, post-colonial, and Black feminisms and that thinks in terms of the negation of the subject rather than her formation.