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Before Dunstan's presentation and our discussion, I wanted to get your reactions to the following video:
How can/should we queer this?
some THEMES from Gender Outlaws:
PERFORMANCE as truth...as fiction?
LIMITS OF DEFINITIONS/LABELS/IDENTITIES/LANGUAGE
OUTLAWS as freaks, too much
THEORY inside/outside of academy (abstract/real theory?)
GENDER/QUEER/TRANS THEORY AS PART OF ACADEMY (institutionalized?)
Bornstein: Queer theory only works side by side with queer practice, otherwise queer theory is straight (21).
weapons of the weak: STALLING recategorize what looks like inaction, passivity, lack of resistance (88)
Trainspotting and unqueer failure: failure leads to while male rage directed against women/people of color
OUTLINE OF REST OF CH: An examination of what happens when failure is productively linked to racial awareness, anticolonial struggle, gender variance, and different formulations of the temporality of success (92).
Moffat and 4th Place: The Art of Losing
The L Word, the Anti-Aesthetic of the Lesbian, and the butch lesbian as loser/failure
Darkness, Shadows, Failure-as-style, Limits, Hopelessness, Punk politics, Fucking shit up, and the Queer Art of Failure
Children, Queer Fairy Tales, Shrek/Babe/Chicken Run/Finding Nemo, and Bringing down the winner and discovering our inner dweeb
two: Punk Politics: God Save the Queen, The Sex Pistols
A rallying cry of England's dispossessed?
A snarling rejection of the tradition of the monarchy and national investment in it?
"No future for Edelman...seems to mean (too) much about Lacan...and not enough about the powerful negativity of punk politics" (108).
Negativity may be anti-politics, but it should not register as a-political.
three: Halberstam, expanding of the archive of negative affects and "fucking shit-up"
four: A queer archive? Inspired by JH's call to discover our inner dweeb...
The concept of practicing failure perhaps prompts us to discover our inner dweeb, to be underachievers, to fall short, to get distracted, to take a detour, to find a limit, to lose our way, to forget, to avoid mastery..." (121).
This book loses the idealism of hope in order to gain wisdom and a new, spongy relation to life, culture, knowledge and pleasure (2).
live life otherwise
Low theory tries to locate all of the in-between spaces that save us from being snared by the hooks of hegemony and speared by the seductions of the gift shop (2).
standing outside of success: failure = not succeeding, not achieving success
goal = dismantling logic of Success/Failure
re-envisioning failure (and losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing) as offering more creative ways of being parallels with Luhmann and ignorance, Butler and undoing
Failure's rewards (3)?
escape punishing norms that discipline behavior/manage development
preserves some of the wondrous anarchy of childhood
disturbs "clean" boundary between childhood/adulthood, winner/loser
allows us to use negative effects (disappointment, disillusionment, despair) to poke holes in toxic positivity and myth of power of positive thinking and positivity/personal responsibility see Ehrenreich and RSAnimate's "Smile or Die"
Is failure necessarily negative? Does it demand that we embrace and value our negative, "whiny," grouchy attitudes?
Little Miss Sunshine and a new kind of optimism: not based on positive thinking or the bright side at all costs, but a little ray of sunshine that produces shade and light in equal measure (5).
not being taken seriously, lack of rigor, frivolous, promiscuous, irrelevant (7).
What should count as "serious" and rigorous academic work?
Benjamin: strolling down the paths, going the wrong way, not knowing exactly which way to go
Disciplinary knowledge, the sciences and rogue intellectuals
Do we really want to shore up the ragged boundaries of our shared interests and intellectual commitments, or might we rather take this opportunity to rethink the project of learning and thinking altogether (7)? Is this possible in academic spaces, especially at the U?
Let me explain how universities (and by implication high schools) squash rather than promote quirky and original thought (7).
produces experts and administrative forms of governance
disciplines qualify/disqualify, legitimate/delegitimate, reward/punish; reproduce themselves and inhibit dissent (10)
crossroads between university-as-corporation and university-as-new-public-sphere
need for subversive intellectuals not more critical, professionalized intellectuals (8)
What kind of intellectuals/thinkers does the University produce? What could it produce? How?
Illegibility may in fact be one way of escaping the political manipulation to which all university fields and disciplines are subject(10). How so? What would this look like? What impact does illegibility have on the ability to survive in the academy? How do those forms get evaluated/graded?
Foucault and subjugated knowledges
steal from the university (11)
adding to the 7 theses (including, worry about university, refuse professionalization, forge collectivity, retreat to external world):
resist mastery (11-12)
privilege the naive or nonsensical
responses to colonial knowledge formations:
homeopathic...one learns dominant system and undermines from within
negative...subject refuses knowledge, refuses to be knowing subject (14)
JH's book works with violent and negative responses
theoretical model that flies below the radar, assembled from eccentric texts and examples (17)
JH on hegemony (from Gramsci and Hall): "the multilayered system by which a dominant group achieves power not through coercion but through the production of an interlocking system of ideas which persuades people of the rightness of any given set of often contradictory ideas and perspectives" (17).
traditional vs. organic intellectual
Low theory = counterhegemonic form of theorizing, the theorization of alternatives within an undisciplined zone of knowledge production (18).
Linebaugh's/Rediker's The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors,Slaves, Commoners, and The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic and the history of alternative political formations
flesh out alternatives: how to live, how to think about time/space, how to inhabit space with others, how to spend time separate from the logic of work (19)
Animated films deliver queer/socialist messages:
revel in difference
invest in resistance
"the art of getting lost?"
FAILURE AS A WAY OF LIFE
goals of book:
"I hold on to what have been characterized as childish and immature notions of possibility and look for alternatives in the form of what Foucault calls "subjugated knowledge" across the culture: in subcultures, countercultures, and even popular cultures."
Turn the meaning of failure in a different direction, away from happy/productive failure to the "dark heart of the negativity that failure conjures"--modes of unbecoming
Early chapters (1-3) chart the meaning of failure
Later chapters (4-6) allow for fact that failure is also unbeing
It is a book about failing well, failing often, and learning how to fail better (24). Reminds me of JB's passage: "Trouble is inevitable, and the task, how best to make it, how best to be in it."
JHalb hopes this book is accessible to a wider audience. What do you think? How do we put Halberstam's desire for intelligibility/accessibility beside our discussion of Butler's value of difficult writing?
Master the art of getting and staying lost (25).
chapter one: Animating Revolt and Revolting Animation
explain the title: A cynical reading of the world of animation will always return to the notion that difficult topics are raised and contained in children's films precisely so that they do not have to be discussed elsewhere and also so that the politics of rebellion can be cast as immature, pre-Oedipal, childish, foolish, fantastical, and rooted in a commitment to failure. But a more dynamic and radical engagement with animation understands that the rebellion is ongoing and that the new technologies of children's fantasy do much more than produce revolting animation. They also offer us the real and compelling possibilities of animating revolt (52).
connection to failure:
Animated films for children revel in the domain of failure
Childhood is a long lesson in humility, awkwardness, limitation, "growing sideways"
Animated films address the disorderly child
PIXARVOLT: new genre of animated films that use CGI and foreground themes of revolution and revolt, making connections between communitarian revolt and queer embodiment (29)
Pixarvolt films draw upon standard narratives, but is also interested in:
relations between inside/outside
desire for revolution, transformation, rebellion
self-conscious about own relation to innovation, tradition, transformation (30)
Films: Chicken Run (collective rebellion, imagining and realizing utopian elsewhere), The March of the Penguins (resolutely animal narrative about cooperation, affiliation, anachronism of homo-hetero divide), Monsters, inc (anti-humanist, anti-capitalist), Bee Movie (oppositional groups rising up to subvert the singularity of the human w/unruly mob)
difference between Pixarvolt and merely Pixilated? difference between collective revolutionary selves and conventional notion of a fully realized individual...Pixarvolts desire for difference is not connected to a neoliberal "Be Yourself" mentality or to exceptionalism; it connects individualism to selfishness, overconsumption (47).
chapter two: Dude, Where's My Phallus? Forgetting, Losing, Looping
"we can argue for queerness as a set of spatialized relations that are permitted through the while male's stupidity, his disorientation in time and space" (65). How?
"The beauty of Dude is that it acknowledges the borrowed and imitative forms of white male subjectivity and traces for us the temporal order of dominant culture that forgets what it has borrowed and never pays back" (67).
"dude, seriously: forgetting, unknowing, losing, lacking, bumbling, stumbling, these all seem like hopeful developments in the location of the white male" (68).
Dude offers a potent allegory of memory, forgetting, remembering, and forgetting again which we can use to describe and invent this moment in the university, poised as it is and as we are between offering a distinction "negative" strand of critical consciousness to a public that would rather not know and using more common idioms to engage those who don't why they should care (68) EXPLAIN
Forgetting: forgetfulness as useful tool for women/queer people for jamming smooth operations of normal and ordinary (71), allows for rupture of present/break w/past/opportunity for new, non-hetero future (71), delink historical change from family/generations, forget family (71-72), Dory forgets family and opens up new modes of relating/belonging/caring (72)
Edelman and heterofuturity + the Child (73)
Stockton and growing up sideways (73)
Finding Nemo (key argument 80-81) and 50 First Dates (key argument on 77) both deploy forgetting to represent a disordering of social bonds, employ transgender motifs to represent queer disruption in logic of normal, and both understand queer time os operating against progress/tradition (74-75).
" The example of Dory in Finding Nemo in fact encourages us to rest a while in the weird but hopeful temporal space of the lost, the ephemeral, and the forgetful" (82).
In their conclusion, does JH address (enough) the potential value of remembering and connecting with the community/culture/"family"? How can we put their claim for the value of breaking from family (forgetting/losing) beside E. Patrick Johnson's emphasis on re-imaging home/identity/community/belonging and Andrea Smith's critique of "no future" and the linear past/present/future it relies on (Smith, 50) and the possibilities for re-negotiating home?
Butler: "Is kinship always already heterosexual?" in Undoing Gender
Kinship = a set of practices that institutes relationships of various kinds which negotiate the reproduction of life and the demands of death...practices that emerge to address fundamental forms of human dependency, which may include birth, child rearing, relations of emotional dependency and support, generational ties, illness, dying, and death (to name a few) (103).
Disjoining kinship and marriage
Role of the State
Does the turn to marriage make it thus more difficult to argue in favor of the viability of alternative kinship arrangements, or for the well-being of the "child" in any number of social forms?
What happens to the radical project to articulate and support the proliferation of sexual practices outside of marriage and the obligations of kinship?
Do the turn to the state signal the end of a radical sexual culture?
Does such a prospect become eclipsed as we become increasingly preoccupied with landing the state's desire?
Gayle Rubin's Charmed Circle from "Thinking Sex" in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader:
The logic of legitimacy/illegitimacy
a field outside of this binary that is less thinkable...the never will be, the never was (106)
New hierarchies: the "good" queer vs. the "bad" queer (106)
nonplaces: there are middle regions, hybrid regions of legitimacy and illegitimacy that have no clear names, and where nomination itself falls into a crisis produced by the variable, sometimes violent boundaries of legitimating practices that come into uneasy and sometimes conflictual contact with one another. These are not precisely places where one can choose to hang out, subject positions one might opt to occupy. These are nonplaces where recognition, including self-recognition, proves precarious if not elusive, in spite of one's best efforts to be a subject in some recognizable sense. They are not sites of enunciation, but shifts in the topography from which a questionably audible claim emerges: the claim of the not-yet-subject and the nearly recognizable (108).
what TROUBLES the distinction between legitimate/illegitimate are sexual practices that do not appear immediately as coherent in the available lexicon of legitimation (108).
Wants to attend to the foreclosure of the possible that takes place when, from the urgency to stake a political claim [e.g. for/against gay marriage], one naturalizes the options that figure most legibly within the sexual field (108).
Argues that "a politics that incorporates a critical understanding is the only one that can maintain a claim to being self-reflective and non-dogmatic" (109).
To be political does not merely mean to take a single and enduring "stand" (109).
What is this desire to keep the state from offering recognition to nonheterosexual partners, and what is the desire to compel the state to offer such recognition?
Whose desire might qualify as a desire for state legitimation?
Whose desire might quality as the desire of the state?
What may desire the state?
And whom may the state desire? Whose desire will be the state's desire?
desire for place and sanctification (111)
JB, the "monstrous" future, and ways to respond (113)
challenge current episteme of intelligibility; argue that other configurations of kinship do exist and should be recognized; outline the negative physical, economic, psychic effects of derealization
But, are there not other ways [outside of the state] of feeling possible, intelligible, even real apart from the sphere of state recognition? Should there not be other ways?
Dilemma: Living w/out norms of recognition results in suffering and disenfranchisement but the demand to be recognized can lead to new forms of social hierarchy, new ways of extending and supporting state power, and the disavowal of sexual lives structured outside of marriage (115).
What is the state (116)? In U.S. state = site to which we can turn which will finally render un coherent...fantasy of state power...gap between state stipulation and existing social life (117)
JB's goal: to not resolve this dilemma, but to develop a critical practice that is mindful of both the need for recognition/intelligibility and the need to maintain a critical/transformative relation to the norms that govern what will/will not count as intelligible kinship configurations/practices (117).
oneel arrebato...rupture, fragmentation...an ending, a beginning
twonepantla...torn between ways
three the Coatlicue state...desconocimiento and the cost of knowing
fourthe call...el compromiso...the crossing and conversion
fiveputting Coyolxauhqui together...new personal and collective "stories"
sixthe blow-up...a clash of realities
sevenshifting realities...acting out the vision or spiritual activism
birth canal threshold (554)
"Suspended between traditional values and feminist ideas, you don't know whether to assimilate, separate or isolate" (548).
torn between home and school, family/ethnic culture and the anglo world
bombarded with new ideas, perceptions of self and world
suspended on the bridge between rewind/fast-forward, elation/despair, anger/forgiveness
space of extremes
"Nepantla is the site of transformation, the place where different perspectives come into conflict and where you question the basic ideas, tenets, and identities inherited from your family, your education, and your different cultures" (548).
"Nepantla is the zone between changes where you struggle to find equilibrium between the outer expression of change and your inner relationship to it" (548-549).
seeing through the fiction of monoculture (and myth of white superiority)
seeing through, allowing you to examine the ways you construct knowledge/identity/reality, and explore how some of your/others' constructions violate other people's ways of knowing and living (544)
begin to see race as an experience of reality, not fixed feature of personality/identity
creates split in awareness...you are a double-knower
vigilance becomes survival tool
crave change and long to engage with world beyond accustomed horizon
So in class tomorrow (11.3), we will be discussing the introduction to Jose Esteban Munoz's Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. In this chapter, "Performing Disidentifications," Munoz examines how a wide range of cultural workers (as culture makers and theory producers) "imagine a world where queer lives, politics, and possibilities are representable in their complexity" (1). Disidentification--as a concept distinct from identification/assimilation and counteridentifical/anti-assimilation--is central to Munoz's understanding of how to imagine complex (and complicated) queer lives and practices.
So, what is disidentification? Here is what Munoz writes on page 4:
Disidentification is meant to be descriptive of the survival strategies the minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the existence of subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship.
Here are some more thoughts from the chapter:
Not always an adequate strategy (5)
About negotiating identity scripts/socially encoded rules that are available (6)
Influences: Chela Sandoval, Norma Alcaron, Cherie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua (7), Crenshaw (8) and This Bridge Called My Back (22)
Involves deeply engaging with ideas/theories and using them, but not identifying with them (9)
Not good subjects or bad subjects, but dissing subjects who try to transform a cultural logic from within (11)
Being misrecognized, as standing under a sign (like human or normal) to which one (as queer) does/does not belong (12)
Not to pick and choose theories/ideas or to willfully reject, but to rework and invest them with new life (12)
Not an apolitical middle ground (between accepting or rejecting/fitting in or refusing to fit in) (18)
About negotiating strategies of resistance with discourses and counterdiscourses... shifting as quickly as power (a la Foucault) (19)
While it involves being hailed into existence--by answering the call from ideologies (interprellation), it also involves a reshaping of that call--a shared impulse and drive toward justice. It is the singing of a song that is not ours, but that we infuse/reshape with our own energy/passion (21).
Foundational text: This Bridge Called My Back (22)
Involves many different (often conflicting and positioned beside/against each other) scripts...not just heteronormativity, but also white normativity (22)
The remaking and rewriting of a dominant script and the public sphere in ways that minoritarian subject's eyes are no longer marginal (23)
Utopia...infused with humor and hope and camp sensibilities (25)
Resists, demystifies, deconstructs (26)
About expanding and problematizing identity and identification, not abandoning any socially prescribed identity component (29)
Going against the grain and turning towards shadows and fissures (29)
Recycling and rethinking encoded meaning...not just cracking the code, but using the code as raw material for representing the disempowered (31)
Failing to be fully hailed into existence (33)
Munoz introduces a number of different examples from the cultural work of queers of color: Marga's Bed, Baldwin's "fictional" novel, Hidaldgo's film Marginal Eyes, This Bridge Called My Back. Were any of those examples particularly helpful as you worked throught Munoz's ideas? Can you think of some examples of disidentification?
How do you understand disidentification in relation to resistance and rejection?
What sort of resistance is it and to what? Does it demand/discourage rejection?
How might disidentifcation relate to the term you are tracking?
The task here is not to celebrate each and every new possibility qua possibility, but to redescribe those possibilities that already exist, but which exist within cultural domains designated as culturally unintelligible and impossible. If identities were no longer fixed as the premises of a political syllogism, and politics no longer understood as a set of practices derived from the alleged interests that belong to a set of ready-made subjects, a new configuration of politics would surely emerge from the ruins of the old. Cultural configurations of sex and gender might then proliferate or, rather, their present proliferation might then become articulable within the discourses that establish intelligible cultural life, confounding the very binarism of sex, and exposing its fundamental unnaturalness.What other local strategies for engaging the "unnatural" might lead to the denaturalization of gender as such?
Midterm check-in presentations will be on Thursday, October 27. You will give a brief 5 minute presentation on your progress tracking your term. This is brief (we don't have that much time!), so please spend time thinking through what you want to say and how you can say it succinctly. After everyone has a chance to present, we will have a more general discussion about how the class is going (what's working, what's not working, etc).
Readings for Today on ABJECT
Butler, Judith. Excerpts from Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter
from Gender Trouble: the process in which others become shit
from Bodies That Matter: unlivable/uninhabitable zones
Allison and the politics of "they"
My people were not remarkable. We were ordinary, but even so we were mythical. We were the they everyone talks about--the un-grateful poor. I grew up trying to run away from the fate that destroyed so many of the people I loved, and having learned the habit of hiding, I found I had also learned to hide from myself. I did not know who I was, only that I did not want to be they, the ones who are destroyed or dismissed to make the "real" people, the important people, feel safer. By the time I understood that I was queer, that habit of hiding was deeply set in me, so deeply that it was not a choice but an instinct. Hide, hide to survive, I thought, knowing that if I told the truth about my life, my family, my sexual desire, my history, I would move over into that unknown territory, the land of they, would never have the chance to name my own life, to understand it or claim it.
Most of all, I have tried to understand the politics of they, why human beings fear and stigmatize the different while secretly dreading that they might be one of the different themselves. Class, race, sexuality, gender--and all the other categories by which we categorize and dismiss each other--need to be excavated from the inside.
...and the good vs. bad poor:
My family's lives were not on television, not in books, not even comic books. There was a myth of the poor in this country, but it did not include us. no matter how hard I tried to squeeze us in. There was an idea of the good poor--hard-working, ragged but clean, and intrinsically honorable. I understood that we were the bad poor: men who drank and couldn't keep a job; women, invariably pregnant before marriage, who quickly became worn, fat, and old from working too many hours and bearing too many children; and children with runny noses, watery eyes, and the wrong attitudes. My cousins quit school, stole cars, used drugs, and took dead-end jobs pumping gas or waiting tables. We were not noble, not grateful, not even hopeful. We knew ourselves despised. My family was ashamed of being poor, of feeling hopeless. What was there to work for, to save money for, to fight for or struggle against? We had generations before us to teach us that nothing ever changed, and that those who did try to escape failed.
2 or 3 Things I Know For Sure...
My aunt Dot used to joke, "There are two or three things I know for sure, but never the same things and I'm never as sure as I'd like." What I know for sure is that class, gender, sexual preference, and prejudice--racial, ethnic, and religious--form an intricate lattice that restricts and shapes our lives, and that resistance to hatred is not a simple act. Claiming your identity in the cauldron of hatred and resistance to hatred is infinitely complicated, and worse, almost unexplainable.
That night I understood, suddenly, everything that had happened to my cousins and me, understood it from a wholly new and agonizing perspective, one that made clear how brutal I had been to both my family and myself. I grasped all over again bow we had been robbed and dismissed, and why I had worked so hard not to think about it. I had learned as a child that what could not be changed had to go unspoken, and worse, that those who cannot change their own lives have every reason to be ashamed of that fact and to hide it. I had accepted that shame and believed in it, but why? What had I or my cousins done to deserve the contempt directed at us? Why had I always believed us contemptible by nature?
Resistance and imagining new possibilites:
I grew up poor, hated, the victim of physical, emotional, and sexual violence, and I know that suffering does not ennoble. It destroys. To resist destruction, self-hatred, or lifelong hopelessness, we have to throw off the conditioning of being despised, the fear of becoming the they that is talked about so dismissively, to refuse lying myths and easy moralities, to see ourselves as human, flawed, and extraordinary. All of us--extraordinary.
2. Midterm check-in presentations will be on Thursday, October 27. You will give a brief 5 minute presentation on your progress tracking your term. This is brief (we don't have that much time!), so please spend time thinking through what you want to say and how you can say it succinctly. After everyone has a chance to present, we will have a more general discussion about how the class is going (what's working, what's not working, etc).
Shanon's Presentation on Gender
JButler and the first chapter of Gender Trouble: see my notes here
to disrupt/trouble the understanding of gender as Real or natural by exposing the regulatory practices that present it as such but that are concealed and
to trace how power works to produce (positive, discursive power) and regulate (negative, juridical power) gendered Subjects (and abjects).
WHY?: Not merely to demonstrate that gender is not natural or to open up gender to limitless possibilities of how to "do" gender, but to demonstrate the fragility/tenuousness of gender as performative and, in so doing, develop ways to extend dignity to those practices/individuals/communities that already exist but whose lives have been relegated to the unlivable.
Queering/troubling gender is primarily aimed at:
exposing the violence that is part of the process of gender subject formation and
developing ways to resist and lessen that violence.
Juridical and Discursive Power
Sex/Gender distinction: Gender and the Body
Heterosexual Matrix: Gender and Identity
Gender as normative not descriptive
Gender as stylized performance
PASSAGE #13:Feel like a natural woman
Although it might appear unproblematic to be a given anatomy, the experience of a gendered psychic disposition or cultural identity is considered an achievement. Thus, "I feel like a woman" is true to the extent that Aretha Franklin's invocation of the defining Other is assumed: "You make me feel like a natural woman." This achievement requires a differentiation from the opposite gender. Hence, one is one's gender to the extent that one is not the other gender, a formulation that presupposes and enforces the restriction of gender within that binary pair (30).
What is the relationship between social justice and queer movement/queering practices? How is queer movement/practices connected to other social justice movements?
What is the significance of Butler's refusal for queer/ing politics? How is she a troublemaker?
Reactions?--in "Where Now?" they write:
As the event enfolds, and is produced as both newsworthy and worthy of scholarly attention, discussions have tended to focus on Butler as a person rather than the issues at hand, or at stake. This again threatens to sideline queer and trans people of colour in Germany, whose struggle may seem a little too far away for some to attend to in its own right.
About 2 minutes and 50 seconds in, A. Davis talks about a "terrain of struggle" and the value of always asking questions. What does she mean by the terrain of struggle? What sorts of queer questions can/should we be asking? What questions does Butler's refusal and all of the important work by activists and theorists of color leading up to that refusal prompt us to ask?
In her refusal speech, Butler applies the idea of homonationalism to Europe (particularly Berlin), arguing that anti-immigrant discourses are being used (wittingly and unwittingly) by gay and lesbian groups to mobilize their members. Immigrants, often Muslin immigrants, are presented as a serious threat to gay/lesbian rights. In her official refusal, Butler writes:
We all have noticed that gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans and queer people can be instrumentalized by those who want to wage wars, i.e. cultural wars against migrants by means of forced islamophobia and military wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. In these times and by these means, we are recruited for nationalism and militarism. Currently, many European governments claim that our gay, lesbian, queer rights must be protected and we are made to believe that the new hatred of immigrants is necessary to protect us.
SUSPECT offers many examples of how homonationalism works in Berlin and why Butler rejected the award. After describing many instances of demonizing/criminalzing migrants and youth of color, they conclude:
It is this tendency of white gay politics, to replace a politics of solidarity, coalitions and radical transformation with one of criminalization, militarization and border enforcement, which Butler scandalizes, also in response to the critiques and writings of queers of colour.
Note: In Where Now?, they reference Andrea Smith's essay about surviving in the academic industrial complex. Check out my blog post about this essay.
Here's something that I tweeted a couple of minutes ago:
From JButler, "Imitation and Gender Insubordination"
Some quotations/themes from the 1990 and 1999 prefaces to Gender Trouble:
I concluded that trouble is inevitable and the task, how best to make it, what best way to be in it (1990, xxix).
I understood myself to be in an embattled and oppositional relation to certain forms of feminism, even as I understood the text to be part of feminism itself. I was writing in the tradition of immanent critique that seeks to provoke critical examination of the basic vocabulary of the movement of thought to which it belongs (1999, vii).
Briefly, one is a woman, according to this framework, to the extent that one functions as one within the dominant heterosexual frame and to call the frame into question is perhaps to lose something of one's sense of place in gender. I take it that this is the first formulation of "gender trouble" in this text. I sought to understand some of the terror and anxiety that some people suffer in "becoming gay," the fear of losing one's place in gender or of not knowing who one will be if one sleeps with someone of the ostensibly "same" gender (1999, xi).
Neither grammar nor style are politically neutral. Learning the rules that govern intelligible speech is an inculcation into normalized language, were the price of not conforming is the loss of intelligibility itself (1999, xix).
What travels under the sign of "clarity," and what would be the price of failing to deploy a certain critical suspicion when the arrival of lucidity is announced? Who devised the protocols of "clarity" and whose interests do they serve (1999, xx)?
What word is given to us through language, and how might the alteration of our language give us a different sense of the world? Is one way that social reality, capital, class difference, relations of subordination and exlusion come to seem natural and familiar precisely through the language that impounds these notions in a subtle and daily way into our sense of reality (Values of difficulty, 203).
Power seemed to be more than an exchange between subjects or a relation of constant inversion between subject and an Other; indeed, power appeared to operate in the production of that binary frame for thinking about gender (1990, xxx).
HETEROSEXUAL MATRIX (of intelligibility):
...what configuration of power constructs the subject and the Other, that binary relation between 'men' and 'women,' and the internal stability of those terms? What restriction is here at work? Are those terms untroubling only to the extent that they conform to a heterosexual matrix for conceptualizing gender and desire (1990, xxx)?
But what is the link between gender and sexuality that I sought to underscore? Certainly, I do not mean to claim that forms of sexual practice produce certain genders, but only that under conditions of normative heterosexuality, policing gender is sometimes used as a way of securing heterosexuality (1999, xii).
There's a very specific notion of gender involved in compulsory heterosexuality: a certain view of gender coherence whereby what a person feels, how a person acts, and how a person expresses herself sexually is the articulation and consummation of a gender. It's a particular causality and identity that gets established as gender coherence which is linked to compulsory heterosexuality (Bulter interview, 4).
GENDER AND PERFORMATIVITY:
Gender is a kind of persistent impersonation that passes as the real. Her/his performance destabilizes the very distinction between the natural and the artificial, depth and surface, inner and outer through which discourse about genders almost always operates (1990, xxxi).
[Gender] operates as an interior essence that might be disclosed, an expectation that ends up producing the very phenomenon that it anticipates. ...Performativity is not a singular act, but a repetition and a ritual, which achieves its effects through its naturalization in the context of a body (1999, xv).
When such categories ["man," "woman," "sex," "gender"] come into question, the reality of gender is also put into crises: it becomes unclear how to distinguish the real from the unreal. And this is the occasion in which we come to understand that what we take to be "real," what we invoke as the naturalized knowledge of gender is, in fact, a changeable and revisable reality (1999, xxiv).
A genealogical critique refuses to search for the origins of gender, the inner truth of female desire, a genuine or authentic sexual identity that repression has kept from view; rather, genealogy investigates the political stakes in designation as an origin and cause those identity categories that are in fact effects of institutions, practices, discourses with multiple and diffuse points of origin (1990, xxxi).
POLITICAL AND ETHICAL VALUE OF GENDER TROUBLE:
What new shape of politics emerges when identity as a common ground no longer constrains the discourse on feminist politics? And to what extent does the effort to locate a common identity as the foundation for a feminist politics preclude a radical inquiry into the political construction and regulation of identity itself (1990, xxxii)?
The dogged effort to "denaturalize" gender in this text emerges from a strong desire both to counter the normative violence implied by ideal morphologies of sex and to uproot the pervasive assumptions about natural or presumptive heterosexuality that are informed by ordinary and academic discourses on sexuality. The writing of this denaturalization was not done simply out of desire to play with language or prescribe theatrical antics in the place of "real" politics, as some critics have conjectured. It was done from a desire to live, to make life possible, and to rethink the possible as such (1999, xxi).
...the aim of the text was to open up the field of possibility for gender without dictating which kinds of possibilities ought to be realized. One might wonder what use "opening up possibilities" finally is, but no one who has understand what it is to live in the social workd as what is "impossible," illegible, unrealizable, unreal, and illegitimate is likely to pose that question (1999, viii).
THERE IS A PERSON HERE...
[Gender Trouble] was produced not merely from the academy, but from convergent social movements of which I have been a part, and within the context of a lesbian and gay community on the east cost of the United States in which I lived for 14 years prior to the writing of this book. Despite the dislocation of the subject that the text performs, there is a person here: I went to many meetings, bars, and marches and say many kinds of genders, understood myself to be at the crossroads of some of them, and encountered sexuality at several of its cultural edges (1999, xvii).
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
Judith Butler in different registers?
I believe it is important that intellectuals with a sense of social responsibility be able to shift registers and to work at various levels, to communicate what they're communicating in various ways ("Changing the Subject")
register one: an op-ed for the New York Times
No doubt, scholars in the humanities should be able to clarify how their work informs and illuminates everyday life. Equally, however, such scholars are obliged to question common sense, interrogate its tacit presumptions and provoke new ways of looking at a familiar world.
register two: an interview with jac
It may well be that we want to construct a fiction called "the public sphere," or a fiction called "common sense," or a fiction called "accessible meaning" that would allow us to think and feel for a moment as if we all inhabit the same linguistic world. What does it mean to dream of a common sense? What does it mean to want that today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, when there's enormous conflict at the level of language? When Serbian and Croatian are now claiming they are separate languages? When speaking even in a Berkeley classroom means speaking across inflection, across dialect, across genres of academic writing to students for whom English is very often a second language? Every classroom I've ever been in is a hermeneutic problem. It's not as if there's a "common" language. I suppose if I were to speak in the language of the television commercial, I might get a kind of uniform recognition--at least for a brief moment--but I'm not going to be able to presuppose a common language in my classroom.
explain: knowable subjects are merely another form of subjection to normalization (5)
A few passages from Luhmann:
If subversiveness is not a new form of knowledge but lies in the capacity to raise questions about the detours of coming to know and making sense, then what does this mean for a pedagogy that imagines itself as queer? Can a queer pedagogy resist the desire for authority and stable knowledge; can it resist disseminating new knowledge and new forms of subjection? What if a queer pedagogy puts into crisis what is known and how we come to know (Luhmann, 5)?
two: how do we come to know?
Instead of focusing on the common concerns of teaching, such as what should be learned and how to teach this knowledge, pedagogy might begin with the question of how we come to know and how knowledge is produced in the interaction between teacher/text and student (Luhmann, 6).
three: pedagogy posed as ? of what knowledge does to students
As an alternative to the worry over strategies for effective knowledge transmission that reduce knowledge to mere information and students to rational but passive beings untroubled by the material studied, pedagogy might be posed as a question (as opposed to the answer) of knowledge: What does being taught, what does knowledge do to students (Luhmann, 7)?
four: becoming implicated
Alice Pitt (1995) points out: "Learning about content is not the same thing as learning from it. In other words . . . learning is something more than a series of encounters with knowledge; learning entails, rather, the messier and less predictable process of becoming implicated in knowledge" [p. 298](Luhmann, 8).
Both queer theory and pedagogy argue that the process of making (sense) of selves relies on binaries such as homo-hetero, ignorance-knowledge, learner- teacher, reader-writer, and so on. Queer theory and pedagogy place at stake the desire to deconstruct binaries central to Western modes of meaning making, learning, teaching, and doing politics. Both desire to subvert the processes of normalization (Luhmann, 8).
six: knowledge as interminable question
at stake are the implications of queer theory and pedagogy for the messy processes of learning and teaching, reading and writing. Instead of posing (the right) knowledge as answer or solution, queer theory and the pedagogy I have outlined here pose knowledge as an interminable question (Luhmann, 9).
seven: ethical, non-heroic practice
Such queer pedagogy does not hold the promise of a successful remedy against homophobia, nor is it a cure for the lack of self-esteem. This pedagogy is not (just) about a different curriculum or new methods of instruction. It is an inquiry into the conditions that make learning possible or prevent learning. It suggests a conversation about what I can bear to know and what I refuse when I refuse certain identifications. What is at stake in this pedagogy is the deeply social or dialogic situation of subject formation, the processes of how we make ourselves through and against others. As an inquiry into those processes, my queer pedagogy is not very heroic. It does not position itself as a bulwark against oppression, it does not claim the high grounds of subversion but hopefully it encourages an ethical practice by studying the risks of normalization, the limits of its own practices, and the im/possibilities of (subversive) teaching and learning.
Some more questions:
Queer pedagogy? Queering pedagogy? What's the difference (is there a difference)?
What queer interventions can we/should we make into the classroom? Teaching-learning?
Is it valuable to make trouble and to be troubled/in trouble? Do you experience this frequently in classrooms? What about in here? How is this classroom space (productively/unproductively) troubling for you? Do you see connections between trouble and queer/ing?
What does a queer classroom look like? What does it mean to queer the classroom? Queer the University? (How) are we queering the University/learning? How does social media fit in here--does it enable us to engage in queering practices (what are queering practices)?
Slight change in reading for next week. On Tuesday, we will be reading the Luhmann and discussing queer pedagogy. On Thursday, we will discuss Smith, Berlant and Sullivan. I will email these to you all as pdfs and post them on moodle. Later today I will fix the online schedule to reflect these changes. note: If you already the Dolan, Mitra/Gajjala or Rak, you can do a DE on one or more of them.
Still having problems with moodle?
Today we will be doing a close reading of the Handhardt. As a reminder, here's the reading:
15 Contingent Belongings
Handhardt, Christina B. "Butterflies, Whistles, and Fists: Gay Safe Streets Patrols and the New Gay Ghetto, 1976-1981" (moodle)
CONFERENCE: Contingent Belongings: Queer Reflections on Race, Space and the State Friday, 9/16-Saturday, 9/17. See more here: http://contingentbelongings.wordpress.com Earn extra credit by attending and posting your thoughts and/or live-tweeting!
a. free-write on theme
b. discuss with your partner/group
c. large discussion
Bodies: What is the relationship between a digital body and a physical body? Connections between the virtual and the real? (How) do bodies function differently in these spaces?
Community: What are the possibilities for queer communities online? Can blogs or twitter provide queer spaces of connection?
Consumption and commodification: How are social media shaped by consumerism? Who/what becomes a product to be sold and consumed? Is it possible to get outside of/disrupt/queer the capitalist logic of blog and twitter spaces--and the liberal individualist logic (see Rak)? How?
Queer Time and labor: Blogs and twitter post entries/tweets chronologically. Are the other ways to imagine how time works on these spaces? Does time always move forward on blogs--any other directions?Who has time for these (and who doesn't)? Who has access to "imaginative possibilities"?
Value of Social Media: What is the value of social media and how do/should we use them? Have we, in J.Jack Halberstam's words, "become a social network of spies and narcissists?" How can we bring desire into the conversation here? What is pleasurable about social media? When is it pleasure and when is it labor? Are these always in opposition (and should they be)?
Public/Private: What sort of spaces do social media provide? Are they private? Public? (When) is public visibility useful/productive/resistant? What are the limits of visibility? How can visibility be used to disrupt (hetero)norms? How can visibility be used to reinforce them? Can we create private (safe?) spaces online--how/why are those important for queering and queer desire? Where can/do we foster authenticity/authentic moments of our selves--in public? in private?
Change in reading for next Tuesday, 9/13: Instead of the previously scheduled readings, you should read the following: Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces Make sure to read the initial post and the comments (some great stuff on blogs, twitter, second life, gaming, etc in the comment section). We will be reading the Dolan, Mitra/Gajjala, Rak on 9/20 instead.
Tutorial: getting set up on blogs and twitter
Distribute assignment worksheet
Discuss blog cluster
What is identity politics?
What role should/does identity play within feminist/glbt organizations? projects?
Does identity function differently online?
How should we use queer?
What is queer/ing?
Should our ideas be accessible? What about disruptive? troubling? uncomfortable?
Goals: reach more people? create safe space? challenge? unsettle?
Audience: Who is queering theory for? and What is queering theory for?
Reactions to these passages:
My favorite book in the world is Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues. It's a work of fiction - a novel - that lays out all of the core tenets of queer theory without ever telling the reader that that's what's going on. It's a distinctly queer book, but it's meant to help those who have theory phobia understand theory without realizing that they're reading theory. Candy-coated vitamins if you will. One of the lessons I took from reading that book is that, if you want to get a message across, it's important to recognize people's anxieties and discomforts at face value and try to present information to them in a way that's palatable and embraceable. Let them understand through a set of language that they can recognize instead of alienating them with language that terrifies them.
DB from comment: Now, let's return to strategy. I respect your dismissal of my approach to creating change but I don't see pragmatic as opposed to radical so much as pragmatic as opposed to idealistic. I very much see myself as a radical pragmatist. I want to open people's eyes, to make them think, to get them to hear perspectives that will blow their mind. And I'm willing to speak on their terms in order to do it. I spent years showing up to the table with my crazy dreads and pushing people's buttons and forcing them to pay attention to me and my approach. And I started to realize that it spoke to some people and completely alienated the people that I needed to listen the most. So I changed my strategy, specifically so that I could make room for my crazy self to be allowed in the door.
DB from comment: It's easy to point to Audrey Lorde [sic]n and reiterate the idea that "the master's tools will never tear down the master's house." But this statement is more of a provocation than a prescription. And what I've found is that blowing up the master's house tends to result in it getting rebuilt with thicker steel walls. I'm far more interested in findings ways in which people can systematically change the system from all angles working together. And it brings me tremendous sadness to watch identity politics stand in the way. Cuz while a lot can be done when people organize, boundary making tends to alienate more than it should. And this is part of why the voices of working class queers and queers of color and queers with disabilities and all sorts of other loud and proud queer-identified folks scratch their heads at a queer movement that looks so painfully HRC.
Hello and welcome to queering theory! In addition to all of the other ways we might be using this blog this semester, I thought I would experiment with using it as a space for organizing our individual class sessions. Here's what we are doing today in class:
To the Class:
Read over the syllabus (also posted on the course information and reading schedule pages and available for download here)
Overview of course topics
To me: Dr. Sara Puotinen
Hi, I'm Sara or Dr. Puotinen. My preferred pronoun is she. I was born in Houghton, MI, but I have also lived in North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, California and Georgia. I have a BA in religion (Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN), MA in ethics (Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA) and a PhD in Women's studies (Emory University, Atlanta, GA). My areas of research interest are: troublemaking, feminist and queer ethics, feminist pedagogies, and feminist social media (especially blogs).
I have been using blogs in my classroom since Spring 2007 and I have been writing on my own blogs since 2009. I started my first blog, a research/writing blog on making/being in/staying in trouble in May of 2009 and I started another collaborative diablog in June 2010 on feminist pedagogy and blogging. Since 2009, I have written extensively about the value of blogs and blogging in feminist and queer classrooms. In addition to tweeting as gwssprof, I also tweet as undisciplined.
I am really excited to see how we can use blogs/twitter in this class to explore and experiment with queering this academic space!
To you: Go around the room and do introductions + fill out questionnaire.