Henri Matisse, Memory of Oceania, 1952

Queer Feelings: Understanding Eve Sedgwick

Instructor: Rebecca Ariel Porte
The Barnard Center for Research on Women
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

“People are different from each other,” writes Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “[i]t is astonishing how few respectable conceptual tools we have for dealing with this self-evident fact.” As one of the founding theorists of queer theory and affect theory, Sedgwick devoted much of her vibrant career to challenging us to think through the implications of difference for conceptions of reading, writing, embodiment, desire, emotion, identity, social relation, and personhood itself. One of the most profound legacies of her work is the counterfactual idea that because difference is possible, the historical categories and experiences that organize our lives today— gender, sexuality, shame, love, illness, and mourning among them—did not necessarily have to assume the shapes or meanings they have taken on in our present moment. Things, in other words, could have been different — and still might be.

This course will pick up this critical possibility as students survey Sedgwick’s work in its overlapping contexts. We will ask: What kinds of methods does Sedgwick offer us when it comes to accounting for and imagining difference? How does her work bear on theoretical problems like the attempt to make queerness visible as a working term? How does she conjure the risks of feeling in public? And what tools does she employ to grapple with the question of how to read literature in a manner that restores, rather than diminishes, difference?

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30 pm
October 10 — October 31, 2017
4 weeks


Registration Open

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