Calendar of Events

Spring 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011
Lauren Berlant
The Desire for the Political
3:30 pm Curtin 175
Co-sponsored by the UWM Department of English

Mass politics is fundamentally affective, exuding intensities that reveal desires for visceral immediacy to shape all kinds of encounter with power, whether critical or adoring. Yet one strategy for entering the affective public of the political is to perform a withdrawal from the very conversationality, opinion, or talk that historically has been said to float the public’s encounter with itself.

For this talk, Lauren Berlant offers a concept of ambient citizenship. She looks at some instances of contemporary art rooted in traditions of silent protest and noise politics whose aim is to remobilize and redirect the intensities that can bind a public affectively to the political. Participants in contemporary political life witness this reticent aesthetic all the time, in memorializing genres from self-immolation to the vigil: what will interest us here are a wide variety of performances of withdrawal and what they can reveal about the state of popular politics and political desire in the contemporary United States.

Related readings:

Lauren Berlant, "Cruel Optimism," differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 17, no. 3 (2006): 20-36.

Lauren Berlant, "Slow Death (Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency)," Critical Inquiry 33 (Summer 2007): 754-780.

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