Living in Ellipsis: On Biopolitics and the Attachment to Life
This talk is located in a shattered, formally inconsistent, yet intelligible zone defined by being in life without wanting the world. Reading with Claudia Rankine (Don’t Let Me Be Lonely), the novel and film of A Single Man (Christopher Isherwood, 1964; Tom Ford, 2009), and Harryette Mullen (Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002), it describes an aesthetics and a subjectivity shaped on one side by suicide and on the other by a life drive that is also, paradoxically, negative, in that it turns toward life by turning away from the world of injury, negation, and contingency that endure as an defining presence for biopolitical subjects. It suggests attending to and developing a dissociative poetics. The talk will be less abstract than this abstract.
Lauren Berlant teaches at the University of Chicago, where she is the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature. Her national sentimentality trilogy—The Anatomy of National Fantasy (1991), The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997), and The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2008)—morphed into a quartet, with Cruel Optimism (2011), that addresses transnational precarious publics and the aesthetics of affective adjustment in the contemporary United States and Europe. Her interest in affect, aesthetics, and politics is also expressed in the edited volumes Intimacy (2000), Compassion (2004), and On the Case (Critical Inquiry, 2007). Her most recent books are Desire/Love (2012) and, with Lee Edelman, Sex, or the Unbearable (2014).
Each year, the Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture invites Dr. Davies' many distinguished colleagues, students and friends to say a few words on the legacy of his work and life. The Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture is sponsored by: The Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture, the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Department of English and the Department of Communications Studies.