"Radically reorienting, challenging, provocative, this book moves progressive philosophy, feminist and queer theory, critical discussions of race and racism forward. Prophetically, it calls for an interrogation of all our oppositional theory and politics, offering new and alternative visions." —bell hooks In Queering Freedom, Shannon Winnubst examines contemporary categories of difference—sexuality, race, gender, class, and nationality—and how they operate within the politics of domination. Drawing on the work of Georges Bataille, Michel Foucault, and others, Winnubst engages feminist theory, race theory, and (...) queer theory as she sheds light on blind spots that have characterized thinking about freedom. Winnubst turns away from the language of rights, identity politics, and liberation toward bodies and experiences to calibrate normative ideas of time and space. Her views operate at the very limits of freedom, which contain individuals within strict boundaries that they are forbidden to cross. Winnubst develops strategies of "queering freedom" to undo the more subtle spatial and temporal norms and shatter structures of domination. This thoughtful and provocative work challenges the cornerstones of contemporary philosophies about the body and its politics. (shrink)
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of cool have informed the American ethos since at least the 1970s. Whether we strive for it in politics or fashion, cool is big business for those who can sell it across a range of markets and media. Yet the concept wasn't always a popular commodity. Cool began as a potent aesthetic of post-World War II black culture, embodying a very specific, highly charged method of resistance to white supremacy and the globalized exploitation of capital. (...) _Way Too Cool_ follows the hollowing-out of "coolness" in modern American culture and its reflection of a larger evasion of race, racism, and ethics now common in neoliberal society. It revisits such watershed events as the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, second-wave feminism, the emergence of identity politics, 1980s multiculturalism, 1990s rhetorics of diversity and colorblindness, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina, as well as the contemporaneous developments of rising mass incarceration and legalized same-sex marriage. It pairs the perversion of cool with the slow erasure of racial and ethical issues from our social consciousness, which effectively quashes our desire to act ethically and resist abuses of power. The cooler we become, the more indifferent we grow to the question of values, particularly inquiry that spurs protest and conflict. This book sounds an alarm for those who care about preserving our ties to an American tradition of resistance. (shrink)
This essay draws on a wide range of feminist, psychoanalytic and other anti-racist theorists to work out the specific mode of space as ‘contained’ and the ways it grounds dominant contemporary forms of racism i.e. the space of phallicized whiteness. Offering a close reading of Lacan’s primary models for ego-formation, the mirror stage and the inverted bouquet, I argue that psychoanalysis can help us to map contemporary power relations of racism because it enacts some of those very dynamics. Casting the (...) production of subjectivity on the field of the visual, Lacan performs some of the fundamental conceptions of space and embodiment that ground the dominant forms of racism in these cultural symbolics. Namely, he articulates a body that is bound by skin, structured by a logic of containment, cathected through aggression and distance, and read primarily through the way it looks – both how it appears and how it beholds the appearances of other bodies. Unraveling this nexus of power relations, I argue that a fundamental anti-racist strategy is to interrupt, interrogate and re-deploy this interpellation of images. Key Words: ego-formation • embodiment • historicity • Lacan • ontological • phallus • race/racial difference/racism • space • visual • whiteness. (shrink)
The connections between the fields of queer theory and continental philosophy are strange and strained: simultaneously difficult and all too easy to ferret out, there is no easy narrative for how the two fields interconnect. Both sides of the relation seem either to disavow or simply repress any relation to the other. For example, despite the impact of Foucault's History of Sexuality, Volume One on early queer theory, current work in queer of color critique challenges the politics and epistemology of (...) placing this text in such a canonical position, particularly for the adamantly anti-foundational field of queer theory. 1 On the other hand, continental philosophy, perhaps in its ongoing beleaguered attempt to form an identity within the analytically dominated discipline of philosophy in the United States, 2 seems largely to ignore the growth of queer theory, despite the provocative and invigorating work on some of continental philosophy's most beloved topics, such as temporality, embodiment, desire, the negative, and radically anti-foundational subjectivity, epistemology, and politics. Setting aside the thorny project of their genealogical connections and disconnections, this essay turns to current trajectories in the field of queer theory, particularly the heated debates about temporality and the future, to indicate how this contemporary scholarship both draws on and exceeds a grounding in continental philosophy. (shrink)
Anglo-American embodiments of poststructuralist and French feminism often align themselves with the texts of either Michel Foucault or Luce Irigaray. Interrogating this alleged distance between Foucault and Irigaray, I show how it reinscribes the phallic field of concepts and categories within feminist discourses. Framing both Foucault and Irigaray as exceeding Jacques Lacan's metamorphosis of G.W.F. Hegel's Concept, I suggest that engaging their styles might yield richer tools for articulating the differences within our different lives.
: Drawing on several feminist and anti-racist theorists, I use the trope of the vampire to unravel how whiteness, maleness, and heterosexuality feed on the same set of disavowals—of the body, of the Other, of fluidity, of dependency itself. I then turn to Jewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories (1991) for a counternarrative that, along with Donna Haraway's reading of vampires (1997), retools concepts of kinship and self that undergird racism, sexism, and heterosexism in contemporary U.S. culture.
Anglo-American embodiments of poststructuralist and French feminism often align themselves with the texts of either Michel Foucault or Luce Irigaray. lnterrogating this alleged distance between Foucault and Irigaray, I show how it reinscrihes the phallic field of concepts and categories within feminist discourses. Framing both Foucault and Irigaray as exceeding]acques Lacan's metamorphosis of G.W.F. Hegel's Concept, I suggest that engaging their styles might yield richer tools for articulating the differences within our different lives.
Through a careful reading of Foucault’s 1979 lectures on neoliberalism alongside Volumes 1 and 2 of The History of Sexuality, I argue that scholarship on both neoliberalism and queer theory should heed Foucault’s framing of both neoliberalism and sexuality as central to biopolitics. I thus offer two correctives to these fields of scholarship: for scholarship on neoliberalism, I locate a way to address the ethical bankruptcy of neoliberalism in a manner that Marxist analyses fail to provide; for scholarship in queer (...) theory, I warn that the longstanding embrace of non-conformity as a mode of resistance to normalization is suspiciously neoliberal. I conclude with the possibility of rehabilitating the concept of jouissance as a non-fungible limit to the enterprising rationality of neoliberalism that, if historicized and especially racialized, might offer a meaningful response to the increasing ethical collapse wrought by the neoliberalization of our lives. (shrink)
Michel Foucault wrote only one essay explicitly on the work of Georges Bataille, “A Preface to Transgression.” The influence of Bataille on Foucault's thinking is so formative that it simply goes unmarked in his texts. In the terms of his work on locating moments of that insubordinate jouissance in various historical terms, Bataille frames insubordinate jouissance as acts of consumption that are a part of all societies. The author develops a reading of Bataille's Accursed Share alongside Foucault's lectures on neoliberalism, (...) The Birth of Biopolitics, not only to develop an example of the benefits of reading these two thinkers together, but also to argue that they help us see how homo economicus is a crucial link in our thinking about twentieth‐century biopolitics. (shrink)
My dissertation is a genealogical examination of the question of history and historical experience in post-Enlightenment thinking. I examine Kant, Hegel and Foucault to determine both how the Kantian-Hegelian tradition has framed the question of history for us and whether, through the genealogical method of Foucault, philosophical thinking can step outside of that structure. My central argument is against the objectification of history that is performed in Kant and then carried to its fruition in the work of Hegel. I turn (...) to the genealogical method, as developed by Foucault out of the work of Nietzsche, for the possibilities of breaking from this post-Enlightenment Reason and its claims of transcendence to historical experience. ;The social, political and ethical ramifications of these developments frame my dissertation. An examination of post-Enlightenment thinking about history necessarily leads to the questions of historicism, relativism and essentialism in post-Enlightenment ethics. I argue that the genealogical method of Foucault opens a way of thinking about historicism that does not reduce it to the ethical chaos of a pure subjectivism or a solipsistic relativism. This kind of swift dismissal of historicism derives from a post-Kantian objectification of history that places historical phenomena in strict opposition to the "universal and necessary" bases of ethical practices. The genealogical method opens the possibility of escaping these reductions: it enacts a different kind of thinking through its engagement with plural, historical discourses. Showing different performances of reason, many of which do not operate through universal, necessary or formal criteria, genealogical thinking opens the possibility of thinking differently about human reason and its ethical enactments in the world. Both the ethical and epistemic implications of this kind of opening can then lead to ways of re-thinking problems currently facing the work of feminists and social-political philosophers. (shrink)
Reviled and fetishized, the work of Georges Bataille has been most often reduced to his outrageous, erotic, and libertine fiction and essays. But increasingly, readers are finding his insights into politics, economics, sexuality, and performance revealing and timely. Focusing on Bataille’s most extensive work, The Accursed Share, Shannon Winnubst and the contributors to this volume present contemporary interpretations that read Bataille in a new light. These essays situate Bataille in French and European intellectual traditions, bring forward key concepts for understanding (...) the challenges posed by his important work, and draw out his philosophy. Established voices and younger scholars cover a range of topics and themes, including ethics, politics, economy, psychology, and performance so readers can think with and through Bataille. While focusing attention on Bataille and his provocative work, this book offers a sympathetic, yet critical, reappraisal and rehabilitation. Contributors are Alison Leigh Brown, Andrew Cutrofello, Zeynep Direk, Jesse Goldhammer, Dorothy Holland, Pierre Lamarche, Richard A. Lee, Jr., Alphonso Lingis, Ladelle McWhorter, Lucio A. Privitello, Allan Stoekl, Amy Wendling, and Shannon Winnubst. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:On the Historicity of the Archive:A Counter-Memory for Lynne Huffer's Mad for FoucaultShannon WinnubstLynne Huffer likes to laugh. I haven't known her very long and I don't even know her very well, but this much I am certain of: the woman likes to laugh. Whether at amusing intellectual witticisms or truly boisterous, gut-splitting observations of life's absurdities, Professor Huffer enjoys laughing. It comes as little surprise, then, that it (...) is the ludic aspect, which is intimately connected to the erotic aspect, of Foucault's work that she aims to rehabilitate in this remarkable, provocative, beautifully written, meticulously researched, and often funny book, Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory.This book is an unusual one. Replete with the intellectual rigor of archival research, subtle, nuanced challenges to accepted translations, critical historical contextualizations, and complex theorizing at the most abstract levels, it is—despite its own anxieties—an intensely academic undertaking. But at the same time, in one of many of its own doublings (the Deleuzian trope through which Huffer initiates her discussion of Foucault), it is also an intensely personal undertaking, shaped by several interludes of appropriately ironic confessions: of Huffer's own coup de foudre in the Foucault archives of a twelfth-century premonasterian abbey in Normandy; of her politico-intellectual biography from high theory French departments to feminist love/hate relations with Foucault; and of her own struggles with various forms of so-called "madness." Giving voice to a transformative experience of encountering "a different Foucault" in that twelfth-century monastery, Huffer clearly gives an account of what Ladelle McWhorter, in her Bodies and Pleasures (McWhorter 1999), calls "undergoing" [End Page 215] Foucault. Huffer herself described it to me as "a work of passion"—and this is clear on every page.Consequently, the challenges that it brings to us as readers, thinkers, and cultural theorists are likewise intense and doubled—both academic and personal, both intellectual and politico-ethical, both theoretical and erotic, both historical and present, and both philosophical and not. She invites us, from the outset, to work through these doublings and the folding back upon themselves that become our intricate enactments and reflections upon our subjectivities. Again, her own beginning with the Deleuzian concepts of doublings, foldings, and coextensivity sets the framework for the kinds of intricate unravelings, especially of dialectical thinking, Huffer undertakes. The text consequently unfolds on multiple levels and requires a reading that is also multiply attentive and attuned. I take the heart of her project—namely, to begin the labor of articulating a desubjectivating, queer, feminist ethics of eros that will enact a more promising, less "caged" freedom in its resistance to the normalizing forces of biopolitics—to be a critical endeavor shared by many cultural theorists working in our contemporary milieu. Huffer's rejuvenation of the language of ethics in this project is most welcome and my comments today are meant to engage her in this shared labor of articulating a queer feminist ethics.The most explicit and innovative narrative of Mad for Foucault is Huffer's doubling of Foucault's 1961 History of Madness and his 1976 History of Sexuality, Volume 1. Much more than a mere tracing of Sexuality One's roots in an earlier, lesser known work, Huffer returns to Madness as a site of erotic ethical possibilities that are utterly absent in the ridiculously popular and popularized Sexuality One. Her return to Madness thereby constitutes a critical intervention in not only Foucault scholarship, but also in queer theory. As Huffer puts it, "Not only is Madness an earlier consideration of sexuality, but, historically, analytically, and stylistically, it gives a thicker, experiential texture to its subject than Sexuality One" (Huffer 2010, xiv). In skeletal terms, Huffer argues that Madness gives us the story of the great split between reason and unreason that occurred in the seventeenth century: due to bourgeois moral exclusion and the ascendancy of rationalism, this Age of Reason produces abnormality, which includes sexuality within its wide arc. Reading Foucault's writing of Madness in the late 1950s alongside his first love affair with Jean Barraqué (Huffer 2010, 13-16) and his struggles with... (shrink)
Drawing on several feminist and anti-racist theorists, 1 use the trope of the vampire to unravel how whiteness, maleness, and heterosexuality feed on the same set of disavowals—of the body, of the Other, of fluidity, of dependency itself. I then turn tojewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories for a counternarrative that, along with Donna Harauiay's reading of vampires, retools concepts of kinship and self that undergird racism, sexism, and heterosexism in contemporary U.S. culture.