Course 1: Wild Bodies: Gender, Sexuality and Power
(Lecturer: Jack Halberstam)
In this course we will read contemporary theorists of the body and power to articulate understandings of relations between the state and sexuality; embodiment, will and agency; race, class, mobility and power. This course draws on feminist and queer theory to explore the production of gender and sexuality in relation to a variety of debates about race, nation, human/animal divides, temporality, spatiality, sentiment, disciplinarity and posthumanism. Topics to be addressed include the following: the formation of discourses of masculinity and femininity and of “perverse” and “respectable” sexualities, under colonial and nationalist regimes; the role of female subjects as both symbols of the nation and active agents in nationalist struggles; the shifting paradigms of gender and sexuality in the context of diaspora and globalization; the possibilities and limits of a queer or feminist framework that spans different geographic contexts; the production of pedagogical methods within feminist theory; the role of gender in debates about the status of the animal; the relations between gender, sexuality and feelings. This class is interdisciplinary in method and scope, as we will examine a variety of cultural texts including theoretical essays, novels, and films.
Course 2: Derrida’s Queer Bio-Politics
(Lecturer: Eszter Timar)
In these two lectures I will try to see how Derridean deconstruction can enrich our understanding of the political tropes of sexuality and gendered embodiment. While Derrida’s oeuvre is sometimes considered to take on a heterogeneity of questions of varying political degree (viewing the early works less and the later works more politically or ethically concerned), one way Derrida was consistent over his works is that he consistently preferred to use terms belonging to what he called the lexicon of biology while discussing the politics of meaning-making in general. His insistence of exploring and deploying the lexicon of the living organism as always already metaphorical is a resource for thinking the regulatory terms of embodiment as always to some extent untethered from the semantic field of the gendered body conceived as pre-social. In the first lecture, I will reread some of David Halperin’s classical texts on the sexual regulations of citizenship in classical Athens through the lens of “Plato’s Pharmacy” to suggest that a disparaging discourse on sycophancy is central in constructing queerly embodied visions of political inauthenticity (the most salient example of this is the figure of the citizen prostitute). In the second lecture, I will look at further examples which are homologous to the way queer figures fit into this discourse of sycophancy but which themselves do not connote queer embodiment: the figure of the actor in the discourse of antitheatricality and the concept of the placebo. In pointing out the consistency with which the figure of the prostitute (as effeminate man), the sycophant, the actor, and the concept of placebo are constructed as a different manifestation of the same failure of political inauthenticity, I will argue that deconstruction can effectively show not only the construction of normal bodies at the cost of excluding some bodies as abnormal, but that the political rhetoric of inauthenticity organizes the logic of life in general.
Course 3: "The world is gone, I must carry you": Daring the Shock of EMUN (Trust). On the Transjective Subreal in Art and Psychoanalysis
(Lecturer: Bracha L. Ettinger)
In the course of two mornings, Bracha L. Ettinger will present the concepts of Eros of borderlinking and wit(h)nessing, and explain the difference between inter-subjectivity and transubjectivity in order to further articulate the human subject as informed by the matrixial-feminine-maternal dimension. Bracha will deal with the relations between trauma, joy and the work of the memory of oblivion, as well as between beauty and the wound, and elaborate on her concept of love intermingled with primary compassion and awe in com-passion, and on the weave composed by the Hebrew words for care, trust and fidelity (as affects and enactments), truth-knowing, art-working and maternality.
Students will come to face directly her newest artwork and meet her current thoughts offered in her unique poetic language, style and formats of expression, worked out in relation to her practice as artist, painter and video-films maker, and as a profound scholar of Freud and Lacan. A reading of Levinas, with whom Bracha also had a project (partly published and partly unpublished yet) in conversation, will be included, as well as an original interpretation of Lacan's passage on the “lamella”. In the course of this presentation Bracha will challenge ideas of other post-Lacanian philosophers from the contemporary French tradition: Badiou and Kristeva. All along, references to other Ettingerian ideas such as translucent transcendency of the kernel of the Thing, matrixial encounter-event, fascinance, the contemporary human subject and more will be clarified so that her most recent thought will be contextualized in the larger field she has developed over the years, in an engaged search to explore and enlarge the aesthetical and the ethical spheres of our lives.
Bracha L. Ettinger and the students will discuss together the pertinence of the psychoanalytical Unconscious and sexual difference in general and her matrixial psychoanalysis and philosophy in more details, for rethinking art, society, the fragility of the self and the vulnerability of the other in the 21th century. The students will have the possibility to present their own work to the group and have a discussion together with Bracha during two afternoons.