Differences: a journal of feminist cultural studies
On 31 May 2023, a special issue of the journal differences, will be published, that I co-edited with Jacques Khalip, titled: “Syntax of Thought: Reading Leo Bersani.”
The volume brings together 35 scholars from a wide-range of disciplines and fields, each of whom has written a short essay based upon a sentence or two that they have selected from Bersani’s work. The volume covers the span of Bersani’s career, from his early work on Proust, Balzac, Baudelaire and other authors in the French modern canon; to his many collaborations with Ulysse Dutoit; to his work on sex and sexuality; and his late work on aesthetic subjectivity.
My own essay, “Incongruity,” considers the central role that this concept plays in Bersani’s radical rethinking of sociality in terms of sameness. I find inspiration and a jumping off point, in this sentence from Bersani’s essay, “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” originally published in Critical Inquiry and later in his book, Thoughts and Things:
“Incongruity institutes virtualities that have no intrinsic reason to be actualized. This retreat from the actual creates a freedom that might be defined as a kind of being to which no predicate can be attached.” (Bersani, Thoughts and Things 66)
Postmodern Culture (journal)
Austin Svedjan (PhD student, University of Pennsylvania) and I are co-editing a special issue of the journal Postmodern Culture, titled, “Afterlives of the Anti-Social.” It will feature essays by Grace Lavery, Mikko Tuhkanen, Tom Roach, Bobby Benedicto, Robyn Weigman, and me, plus an interview with Lee Edelman. Expected date of publication: 2024.
My essay, “Unlovable Oneness,” is structured by the “incongruous coupling” of Eimear McBride’s masterpiece debut novel, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, and Ellsworth Kelly’s painted aluminum panels for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, in St. Louis, Blue Black. In the essay, and my reading of Leo Bersani and Ulysses Dutoit’s work (from their early writing on Pasolini’s film, Salò, to their later work on Kelly), I consider the ethical virtue of going along with the unlovable and how literature and art provide us with an aesthetic training as to how to do so, and in ways that avoid reproducing the world’s violence in which we are all implicated.
Through Kelly’s monochromes, the essay also thinks about Bersani’s notion of “oneness,” in terms of chromatics, and how such incongruous oneness as Blue Black enables us to move out of a racial/racist chromatics and toward a different sense of being together. Something that artist Glenn Ligon explored in his curating of “Blue Black,” an exhibition in 2017 at the Pulitzer, that took Kelly’s work as inspiration and jumping off point.
New Formations (journal)
For a special issue of the journal New Formations, edited by Jessica Cotton on the topic of “Loneliness,” I have written an essay titled, “Solitude and the Time that Remains in Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail.” The essay is an extended close reading of Shibli’s remarkable novel. It considers the ways in which the book works with solitude and minor details as two key modalities in which the time that remains—as a non-enclosed temporality, not entirely circumscribed by the historical past, present, or future—opens for the anonymous Palestinian female narrator in the second part of the novel, as she travels through the contemporary Israeli apartheid state, in search of information about a young anonymous Bedouin girl who was brutally raped and murdered by Israeli soldiers decades earlier in the Negev desert. Expected date of publication: 2024.
Sex and the Pandemic
“Sex and Exclusion” is my essay for this collection of essays edited by Ricky Varghese, to be published by University of Regina Press. In it, I theorize the relation between sex and exclusion, partly in dialogue with recent work by Adam Phillips and also Maurice Blanchot, and in relation to artist Dean Sameshima’s photographic series, being alone, which he shot in sex clubs and bathhouses in Berlin during the pandemic. This essays continues writing that I have done on Dean’s work, that has recently been published in the journals, A/R and The Large Glass, both in 2021 (see related posts on this web site).