Captivity, Ferality, and Architecture of Sexuality
The individual talks are followed by a joint discussion of Jack Halberstam and Eva Hayward
Jack Halberstam, “Becoming Feral”
This talk will pursue some odd and wild lives out of an archive of gayness and into new configurations of desire, escape, fugitivity and flight. My talk begins with structures of thought provided by Foucault and to a lesser extent Freud but shifts in the latter part of the paper to Deleuze and Guattari precisely because the Freud-Foucault theoretical hand off between repression and production does not allow for counter intuitive modes of identification that exceed the human altogether. Arguing that something always escapes systems of classification, and building upon Foucault’s sense in The History of Sexuality Volume One that paradigm shifts take time and are necessarily incomplete, in my presentation today I offer up examples of queer characters, some literary, some historical, caught between systems of identification who direct their unnamable desires through the fantasy of becoming feral and leaving the domesticating and suffocating influences of family, normal temporalities and modes of intimacy behind.
Jack Halberstam is Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of six books including: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and, most recently, a short book titled Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variance (University of California Press). Halberstam is currently working on several projects including a book titled Wild Thing: Queer Theory after Nature on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture the intersections between animality, the human and the environment.
Eva Hayward, “Captivating”
Examining the aquarium photographs by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel (Aquarium, 2003), this talk asks: What about animal captivity mesmerizes, seduces, cajoles? To think through these questions, the talk turns to Alphonso Lingis’ proposal that bestiality is our sexuality – as portrayed in his writing on a child’s contact with a puppy mouthing and licking his legs and fingers and face. While the sexual scene of the developing child may be pleasurable because it is bestial, bestiality is forbidden, revealing an ambivalent relationship to pleasure. In other words, it is not that sexuality is bestial, as Lingis might have it, but rather the animal is figured as the repression of sexuality. By focusing as much on the aquarium design and technologies as the displayed animals, Cook and Jenshel’s photographs illustrate how captivity circumvents the repressive function of the animal, enabling sexuality to find an animal object, what we might call an architecture of bestiality. We are left to ask: How does the sexual function of the animal administrate the human rather than producing a divide (human/animal)? How is captivity always sexual?
Eva Hayward is an assistant professor in Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Receiving her Ph.D. in History of Consciousness at University of California, Santa Cruz (2008), she has taught at the UC Santa Cruz, University of New Mexico, and University of Cincinnati. She held postdoctoral fellowships at Uppsala University and Duke University. Her research focuses on aesthetics, environmental and science studies, and sexuality studies. She has recently published articles in Angelaki, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Cultural Anthropology, Parallax, differences, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. Hayward’s forthcoming book “SymbioSeas” looks at underwater representations of marine organisms to think about the interplay of sexuality and animal sciences.
This event is co-sponsored by the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative at CEU!