Friday, May 24, 2013

"No Church in the Wild: Queer Anarchy and Gaga Feminism."

The PSU Dept. of English Presents: The 2013 Kellogg Awards Ceremony. Featuring one of the world's leading gender and queer theorists, Jack Halberstam. whose talk is entitled, "No Church in the Wild: Queer Anarchy and Gaga Feminism."

In a new book on "The Wild" I turn to anarchist thought to elaborate a queer politics for this particular moment of crisis and renewal. As many thinkers have proposed recently, a turn to anarchy makes sense at this time precisely because people's faith in the state and in a politics of inclusion and assimilation is wearing thin, particularly in leftist circles; and, anti-hegemonic, anti-state and anti-assimilationist positions have been rendered thinkable by Occupy movements and other global expressions of radical dissent. My recent book, Gaga Feminism, in that it both calls for and describes an end to "the normal," or that form of state power that manages people by disciplining them in relation to a fantasised norm, could be called anarchist. And my book on failure, in that it breaks with the all or nothing logics of success driven by capitalism, could be characterized as anarchist critique. In this new project, I seek to make explicit the stakes of a queer investment in anarchy that both reaches back to punk movements from the 1970's for inspiration but also seeks other traditions of anarchy globally. 

Jack Halberstam is Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. Halberstam works in the areas of popular, visual and queer culture with an emphasis on subcultures. Halberstam's first book, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (1995), was a study of popular gothic cultures of the 19th and 20th centuries and it stretched from Frankenstein to contemporary horror film. The 1998 book, Female Masculinity (1998), made a ground breaking argument about non-male masculinity and tracked the impact of female masculinity upon hegemonic genders. In the book, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005), Halberstam described and theorized queer reconfigurations of time and space in relation to subcultural scenes and the emergence of transgender visibility. This book devotes several chapters to the topic of visual representation of gender ambiguity.  Halberstam is currently working on several projects including a book titled THE WILD on queer anarchy.

In The Queer Art of Failure (2011), Halberstam wrote about "about finding alternatives to conventional understandings of success in a heteronormative, capitalist society; to academic disciplines that confirm what is already known according to approved methods of knowing; and to cultural criticism that claims to break new ground but cleaves to conventional archives."

Halberstam's latest book is Gaga Feminism (2012), is "a provocative manifesto of creative mayhem, a roadmap to sex and gender for the twenty-first century, that holds Lady Gaga as an exemplar of a new kind of feminism that privileges gender and sexual fluidity."

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