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Antisocial Femininity: Refusal Toward the Relational

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Organizer: Chelsea Largent

Co-Organizer: Nora Carr

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As we figure out what new social configurations look like, and whether or not we want to be a part of them, it seems we are at a point in queer and feminist theory where the futurity of our current conceptions of the social is also being called into question.


In their text, Disaffected, Xine Yao notes that there is an emerging divide in queer theory: one that relies on a kind of negativity, as found in Lee Edelmans’ work No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive, and another that offers a more generative vision of subjectivity with origins in José Muñoz’s theory of Disidentifications. Yao’s intervention is the concept of “marginalized unfeeling,” by which, “antisocial affects may be perceived as such only because their insurgent potential offers a way out of dominant ways of being and enabling new structures of feeling to arise.”(12)


Similarly, Sara Ahmed calls for a kind of queer “reorientation”; Legacy Russell envisions “Glitch Feminism”; Bonnie Honig calls it “The Feminist Theory of Refusal.” At the core of these discourses of discord is a question about what it means to be social. Is rejecting all aspects of dominant sociality the only way to conceive of new forms of community? Or is antisociality a more subtle endeavor?


Mari Ruti asserts that the “defiant subjects” of a queer theory of negativity utilize the figure of the gay male anti-hero (i.e. Jean Genet) as a paradigm, and the rest of us are relegated to the relational, which Ruti calls “the universe of intersubjective others.” Who are the other antisocial figures? For example, could we envision an antisocial femme? Frequently dismissed, even in queer discourses, the feminine is conflated with the relational as part of this universe of others. Can we pull apart the ‘feminine’ and the ‘social’?


This seminar aims to deconstruct conventional notions of the antisocial to investigate modes of feminine/femme antisociality that serve to restructure how we could be social otherwise. Ultimately, we ask: how do representations or fantasies of the antisocial in literature, art, film, television, Tik-Tok, etc. entice us to question our identity vis-à-vis a certain conception of what it means to be social?


We welcome papers from all disciplines that resonate with, though are not limited to, the following themes and questions:
  • Is there a way for a subject to be defiant toward the relational?

  • How do feminine/femme characters disrupt or contest narratives traditionally read as masculine?

  • How does language construct anti-sociality more broadly?

  • Does the performance of the antisocial create spaces for marginalized individuals or communities?

  • What affects do we associate with ideas of the Antisocial?

  • How does the antisocial relate to capitalist structures of isolation?

  • Which narratives offer us representations of delightful and scandalous forms of refusal that create spaces we could have not have imagined otherwise?

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