Calendar of Events

Spring 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011
Heather Love
(English, University of Pennsylvania)
Sticking Together
Keynote for the 6th Annual Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference: Ambivalence
4:30 pm, Curtin 175

In this keynote presentation, Heather Love takes up the question of ambivalence in relation to political action. In her work in Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Harvard University Press, 2009), she considered the way in which loss, trauma, and suffering might unfit marginal subjects for political action, and argued that an expanded definition of the political should make space for ambivalence, depression, and even despair.

For this talk, Love considers the role that negative affect and shared experiences of stigmatization might play in the creation of collectivity. The collective that she uses as example is a textual one: it is made up of the social outsiders who populate the footnotes of Erving Goffman’s 1963 sociological classic Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. In his focus on concepts and the minutiae of social interaction, Goffman mostly ignores questions of feeling and experience; nonetheless, affect is registered in the textual traces of a range of narratives—memoirs, autobiographies, novels, and case histories—visible in the notes. Through a critical reflection on Goffman’s method, she considers the ambivalent processes of abstraction and comparison that go into the forging of a collective.

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