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Queer Death, De(con)struction, and Contagion: Affective Rhythms in Interdisciplinary Studies

The Inaugural Interdisciplinary Queer Studies Symposium

University of California, Merced
Saturday, April 9, 2016

When we consider “death” and “contagion,” we operate with a negative affect indicative of the queer. According to Halberstam in the "Queer Art of Failure," in "order to inhabit the bleak territory of failure we sometimes have to write and acknowledge dark histories” (23). Thus, we question and problematize how “contagion” operates in dominant society as a reductive concept, against the living and for the dead; we find this an incomplete conclusion. Contagion carries with it a particular resistance, pushing against pathologized bodies, creating quite the cacophony — queer, as a resistive carrier, absorbing all sickness, illness, and discrimination, while de(con)structing as a viralized contagion [we are queerly OK with this — yes].

We believe a rhythmic affect entails the enactment of the queer, prevented from "emerging in the first place, often by techniques that intimately involved the body” (Freeman 11). We consider deaths’ pluralisms, accepting its sonorous memory, phenomenological and somatized haps, through bodies, both liminal and transitive—our interrogations are always already borderlandsde(con)structing.

This symposium seeks to explore the modalities and spatialities of death and contagion, and a de(con)structing of realities — because "concrete reality is socially constructed and, arguably, because the social construction of reality finds its template in the construction of what might be called the physical or the flesh as body” (Scott 57). How do variously defined bodies embrace death worlds? How do they (re)pulse? What are the limitations of a politics that employs death, de(con)struction, and contagion? How do bodies look toward or into death? If death could make a sound, what would its rhythms and re(verb)erations be? And how does this effect affect? So, what of this acknowledgments is hegemonically interpretable as a contagion of defective realities?


Keynote Speaker

Eric A. Stanley, UC Riverside

"Necrocapital: AIDS, Affective Accumulation and Viral Labor"

Eric A. Stanley is an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Along with Chris Vargas, Eric directed the films "Homotopia" (2006) and "Criminal Queers" (2015). A coeditor of the anthology "Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex" (AK Press, 2011) which won the Prevention for a Safe Society Award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, Eric’s other writing can be found in the journals Social Text, American Quarterly, Women and Performance and TSQ.


8:45 - 9:00 a.m.: General registration/check-in

9:00 - 9:45 a.m.: Introduction, acknowledgements

10:00 - 11 a.m.:

Panel One (in the Alpine Room) "World War One: Literature and Sexuality in the Shadow of Death," Moderated by Marilee Shaw

  • “Peace and Love on the Western Front: Pacifism and Sexuality in Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy,” by Heaven Lindsey-Burtch, California State University, Stanislaus
  • “The Root of All Hysterics: Pat Barker’s Regeneration.” Sandra Cruz, California State University, Stanislaus
  • “But the End of the Rainbow is a Bottomless Gulf: D.H. Lawrence’s 'The Fox' as a Queer-Normative Narrative,” by Camille J. Brown, Mills College

Panel Two (in the Garden Room): "Imagining Queer Border Politics: Hegemonic Hauntologies as Contagion Scripts," Moderated by Trevor Jackson

  • “The ‘White’ God of the Black Church in James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain,” by Eric Liewald, California Polytechnic University
  • “Queering a Border Militarized Discourse: How the News Creates Nation, Crime and the USA-Mexico Divide,” by Sang Hea Kil, San Jose State University
  • “Do We Know Where We Are? Fear of Death and Actual Death: Consciousness of Living in Deathworlds Versus Individualist and Cultural Arguments,” by Marcus Shaw, University of California, Merced

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Panel Three (in the Alpine Room): "Contagion, Perversion and Commodification: Attitudes toward Sexual Minorities" Moderated by Carolina Molina

  • “Antigay Attitudes, Contagion Beliefs and Perceptions of Gay Men’s Health,” by Arturo Durazo, UC Merced
  • “The Construction of Dual-Process Models: From Self-Regulation Failures to the Biopolitics of Sick Bodies,” by Chad Valasek, University of California, San Diego

Panel Four (in the Garden Room): Decompositions: Body and Blackness in the Literary," Moderated by Sage B. Perdue

  • “‘A Woman Should Have Something of her Own’: Suicide in Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed,” by Ianna Hawkins Owen, University of California, Berkeley.
  • “Looking Myself Up In Webster’s: Middlesex, Intersex and the Confluence of Racialized Illness,” by Kia Middleton, UC Berkeley.
  • “Dying Under a Weight of Decadence: Suicide, White Manhood and Nationalist Rhetoric,” by Zachary Manditch-Prottas, UC Berkeley.

12:15-1:15 p.m. lunch in the Alpine Room

1:20 - 2:20 p.m.:

Panel Five (in the Alpine Room): "Queer Embodiment: Resisting the Gaze and Attempting a Voice," Moderated by Arturo Durazo

  • “Hearing Suicide: Evoking Inner Voice in Brandon Labelle’s Lexicon of the Mouth,” by Sage B. Perdue, UC Merced.
  • “Nikki S. Lee and Her Masquerades,” by Gwen Kuan-Ying Kuo, UC Merced
  • “Queering Capitalism Through Sex Work and Temporality,” by Ashley Kimura, San Francisco State University

Panel Six (in the Garden Room): "The Promise of Queer Failure: Resisting Narratives of Utopic Futurity" Moderated by Trevor Jackson

  • “The Human Being, Utopian Desire, and the Purpose of the Post-Apocalyptic Narrative: Speculations on The Killing of a Concept,” by Trevor Jackson, UC Merced
  • “‘You in your Turn will Draw Near to Others’: Queer Time and the ‘Failure’ of the Gothic Narrative in J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla,” by Margaret Miller, University of California, Davis
  • “Queer Desires: Solipsism and Subversive Sexualities as Moments of (Un)Becoming in Henry James’ 'The Wings of the Dove',” by Marilee Shaw, UC Merced

2:35 - 3:35 p.m.:

Panel Seven (in the Alpine Room): "Transgender Suicide: Neoliberal Commodification and 'Visibility' Structures of Confinement," Moderated by Bianca Negrete

  • “The Suicide-Industrial Complex: Transgender Identity Capital in Contemporary Neoliberal Activist Mobilizations,” by Eli Erlick, Pitzer College.
  • “Transgender Confinement: Identity, Agency and Mortality,” by Mara Garza, University of California, Riverside
  • “To Cross the River Jordan: Necropolitics, Crisis, and the Management of Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Suicide in the Carceral State,” by Josefina Garcia-Turner, University of Washington, Bothell

Panel Eight (in the Garden Room): "Queer Negativity: Homoableism, Neurodivergence and Necropolitical Affect," Moderated by Ashley Metzger

  • “Always Dying: The Feeling of Necropolitics in Queer Suicide Discourse and the Creation of Art,” by Benedict Nguyen, New York City
  • Failed Therapies and Dark Histories: A Queer Clinician’s Struggle with Contagion and the Category of Perversion,” by Daniel Butler, Access Institute
  • “Changeling Teratologies: Autism Speaks and the End of Oedipality,” by Jack Kahn, Pomona College

4:00-5:00 p.m.

Keynote Address (in the Alpine Room):

"Necrocapital: AIDS, Affective Accumulation, and Viral Labor," by Associate Professor Eric A. Stanley, UC Riverside