#2: 'Queerness' 25/10/2018



#2: 'Queerness' 25/10/2018

Thursday 25 October | 5 - 6.30pm | LHRI: Room 1 | All Welcome 

For our second session of the year, we will be reading the eighth chapter of Butler’s Bodies That Matter (1993), entitled ‘Critically Queer’. We will be reading Butler’s discussion of queer identity, queerness and drag alongside a short section from Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015).

In ‘Critically Queer’, the concluding chapter of Bodies that Matter, Butler evaluates the refunctioning of the term ‘queer’ from its pejorative origins. She urges for the ongoing critique of a totalising queer identity category as ‘crucial to the continuing democratization of queer politics’ (227). If, as Butler argues, a performative discourse succeeds only through its iterability and ongoing citation, then the reification of a queer subject must be interrogated for its own exclusionary practices. The reading for this week allows an investigation of Butler’s claims and a reflection on how critical queerness reiterates and develops her notion of gender performativity. Intrinsic to the progression of Butler’s thinking in the chapter is her further analysis of drag performances, which she describes as an allegory for ‘heterosexual melancholia’ (235). In turn, these elements of Butler’s thinking loosely inflect Nelson’s memoir, which distils complex theoretical paradigms of queerness into concise personal narratives about kinship, sex/sexuality, and family. 

Pdfs of 'Critically Queer' and extracts from The Argonauts can be found here and here.

In the coming weeks, we will be arranging a film showing and cinema trip(s) that explore queerness and queer identity. The pairing of Butler with Nelson in this session begins our conversation on possible entanglements between Butler’s oeuvre and various cultural outputs.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Thursday 25 October | 5 - 6.30pm | Leeds Humanities Research Institute, 29 - 31 Clarendon Place: Room 1 | All Welcome 

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