Future Queer: an Introduction to Jose Muñoz
“Queerness is not yet here,” José Esteban Muñoz declares. And yet, his work is animated by sympathetic, often exuberant explorations and nuanced analyses of queer performance and queer activism—from the evanescent installations of Felix Gonzales-Torres to the reparative performances of Nao Bustamante. What does it mean, then, to propose that queerness has yet to arrive? What are the dimensions of normativity—political, aesthetic, temporal—that seek to forestall it? And with what tools might queerness be, eventually, realized? Drawing on a wide variety of thinkers, concepts, and discourses, from Ernst Bloch to Lauren Berlant, from “structures of feeling” to “counterpublics,” from psychoanalysis to theories of race, sexuality, and performance, Muñoz takes an interdisciplinary and decidedly optimistic approach to queerness as a horizon of radical potentiality. Whether breaking new ground with his theory of disidentification—an anti-normative orientation for queers and people of color that both embraces and subverts stereotypes—or attending to the potency of gesture in drag and dance, Muñoz helps us envision and construct queer worlds using materials scavenged from the normative trappings of identity. If queerness is not here yet, how, thinking with Muñoz, can we bring it about?
In this course we’ll read from Jose Muñoz’s two books, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics and Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, examining along the way other essays by him and work by the artists he cites, including, among others, Bustamante, Gonzalez-Torres, Amiri Baraka, Frank O’Hara, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. We’ll ask: how does “disidentification” traverse the dual allure of identification with and transgression of dominant cultural meanings? What strategies does aesthetics offer, if what we are seeking is a rearrangement of everyday practices as well as structural and communal change? How might theory itself be re-conceptualized from the perspective of artistic practices? And how might our own engagement—or disidentification—with contemporary discourses bring about queerness in the here and now?
Course ScheduleThursday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
October 20 — November 10, 2022