"The Fear of Pleasure: Queer Affects in Environmental Movements"
For decades, feminist and queer scholars have pointed out that erotophobia is connected to a masculine and colonial relation to the earth, and yet, within environmental movements the affects of sincerity, outrage, and anxiety are often emphasized. What, in pleasure, in joy, and laughter, are we afraid of? And how might this connect to a queer environmental politics? The talk and discussion will be followed by a screening of Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan's video Lesbian Park Rangers. This talk will be held December 6th at 5:30pm at The Bishop Bar, during which time the film will be screened.
Heather Davis is an assistant professor of Culture and Media at The New School in New York whose work draws on feminist and queer theory to examine ecology, materiality, and contemporary art in the context of settler colonialism. Her most recent book, Plastic Matter (Duke University Press, 2022) explores the transformation of geology, media, and bodies in light of plastic’s saturation.
Cultural Studies has often been framed as a method of approach, a way of understanding and interpreting the relationship between cultural narratives and social and political institutions with particular attention to questions of power and resistance. The past few decades have seen several challenges to this method, from the new materialist critique of the linguistic turn to post-critical and auto-theoretical emphases on aesthetics, affect, and memoir. These movements have been especially central to work in queer studies and queer of color critique, most centrally expressed in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s complaint about the stultifying sameness of approach in queer theoretical writing and its mistaken fidelity to exposure and persuasion as activist modes. These challenges have broadened the scope of humanities research, taking in archives formerly left to the sciences and modes of thought once considered too creative to count as academic arguments. The resulting profusion of subjects and styles reflects the robustness of our field in a way often overlooked by the so-called method wars.
This year, Culture Nights seeks to celebrate and enrich our work on how we write and what we write about with a series of meetings that push us beyond the form of scholarly writing. How can we understand these forms as producing criticism, and what sort of criticism do they produce? Our series invites scholars whose works have taken the form of films, pamphlets, and how-to books, archival and visual curation, plastic and fabric art practices, and event-creation, to discuss how (and whether!) they see their work as forms of criticism. As a way of putting our interests into practice, we will encourage presentations that experiment with form and media, including film screenings, interviews, readings, and collaborative workshops.