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Queer Pragmatics

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Organizer: Adam Sax

Co-Organizer: Davy Knittle

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In Cruising Utopia, José Esteban Muñoz argues that “Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.” Muñoz’s intervention pushes back against the assertion that queerness exists as an antithesis of “repronormativity” enforced by the distinctly not queer ideological position that particular material and psychic goals can only be reached by projecting oneself into the future in and as children. For Muñoz, the future becomes the domain of the queer, the time and place where queerness can thrive. However, scholars overlook the necessity of a theorization of the “now” in queer theory, an urgent, revolutionary now akin to what Walter Benjamin calls the “Jetztzeit,” and how a practical attention to or pragmatics of the “now” may serve queer critique presently and into the future.

In this seminar, we seek to address the present as a convergence of temporalities, as the site of embodied and affective encounters, and as a crucial focus for queer critique. We are particularly interested in exploring the intersections between queer studies and other fields that address the constitution the present, and which move between scales, situating the body in an interlocking set of contexts. We focus on the present to explore what Katherine McKittrick calls “the material world” that is situated in a present “infused with sensations and distinct ways of knowing.” To this end, we seek papers that speak to the toolkit queer studies offers for describing what Carolyn Dinshaw calls the possibility of “a fuller, denser, more crowded now.”

We welcome contributions that explore, among other topics, queer critique’s encounter with ecocriticism and representations of climate change, with material culture studies, with geography and studies of the city, and with experiences of migration and displacement. The urgency of these questions rests in queer critique’s potential for describing uneven experiences of precarity in dialogue with non-normative sexualities and genders, and in reaching to other frames. Such vantages exist outside the body and the subject and tend toward the situated experiences of the collective that are rendered pragmatic by large-scale social, political, and environmental shifts.

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