Building Education for the Commons

Prof. Michael O’Rourke’s Queer Theory GCAS Seminar (Free & Open to the Public)

m orourkeThe Nows and Thens of Queer Theory

An on-line and in residence seminar with Michael O’Rourke


Monday 9 February—Friday 13 February, 10am-12pm (GMT) daily

In residence: Humanities Institute of Ireland Seminar Room, Room 204, UCD Humanities Institute of Ireland Seminar Room, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland (http://www.ucd.ie/hii)

Directions to the venue: See point 30 on the UCD Belfield Campus Map:http://www.ucd.ie/maps (open the pdf file)

On-line: details available soon (https://globalcenterforadvancedstudies.org/)

Registration: details available soon

**The course will be open to GCAS students, HII/UCD students and anyone else who wishes to attend either in residence or on-line**

Lecturer: Michael O’Rourke (plus special guests to be announced)

Course Description

If the term ‘queer’ is to be a site of collective contestation, the point of departure for a set of historical reflections and futural imaginings, it will have to remain that which is, in the present, never fully owned, but always and only redeployed, twisted, queered from a prior usage and in the direction of urgent and expanding political purpose” –Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’

Queer does not designate a class of already objectified pathologies or perversions … rather, it describes a horizon of possibility whose precise extent and heterogeneous scope cannot in principle be delimited in advance—David Halperin, Saint Foucault

Utopic in its negativity, queer theory curves endlessly towards a realization that its realization remains impossible—Lee Edelman, “Queer Theory: Unstating Desire”

Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer—José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Every so often we read that Queer Theory is over, that the once vital possibilities it possessed are “now” fully exhausted, that queer theory belongs to a time of the “then”. So, when all is said and done, we are told time and time again, queer theory is dead. But still the field continues to exert a resilience, an adhesive attachment to life, a vivacious capacity to intervene, and still harbours an ineradicable political promise. Refusing sedimentation and domestication queer theory is, as Eve Sedgwick wrote in 1993, “inexhaustible”. Its currentness in geopolitical locations other than the United States is testament to this. Only now is “American” queer theory beginning to make an impact in France where, ironically, most of its critical insights were born. Twenty years after it appeared on the US academic landscape to “exude some rut” (Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner) queer theory is “hot” in the many elsewheres of queer world-making.

This course set out to examine the last two decades, the now(s) and then(s), of queer thinking looking first at “foundational” texts and later on at the recent theoretical and political turns the field has taken (and ruminating on its for now unimaginable future directions, twists and turns). The major point the course wishes to make is that queer theory is a weak theory (a messianicity without messianism) with an insistent ethico-political purpose and can, in keeping with the GCAS ethos, aid us when it comes to attending to and intervening in the most urgent world political events of our time.


Readings will be chosen from the following list. A full course outline will be available shortly:

Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’

Judith Butler, Precarious Life

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Weather in Proust

Michael Warner (ed) Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory

Gayle Rubin, Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader

Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, “What does Queer Theory Teach Us about X?”

Lee Edelman, Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory

David Halperin, Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vols 1-III

Teresa de Lauretis (ed) “Queer Theory” issue of differences: a journal of feminist cultural studies

Tim Dean, Beyond Sexuality

Leo Bersani, Is the Rectum a Grave and Other Essays

Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy

Robert McRuer, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness

Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times

Susan Stryker, The Transgender Studies Reader

Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman, Sex, or the Unbearable

Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism andd Desire/Love

Mel Chen, Animacies, Biopolitics, Racial Mattering and Queer Affect

Robyn Wiegman, Object Lessons

Beatriz Preciado, Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era

Lynne Huffer, Are the Lips a Grave?A Queer Feminist on the Ethics of Sex

James Penney, After Queer Theory? The Limits of Sexual Politics

Annamarie Jagose, Orgasmology

José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Wayne Koestenbaum, Humiliation

Michael Cobb, Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled

Michael Snediker, Queer Optimism: Lyric Personhood and Other Felicitous Persuasions

Tim Dean, Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking

Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories

Jean-Paul Martinon, The End of Man

  1. Jack Halberstam, Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal
  2. Period Gilson and Will Stockton, Crush

One comment on “Prof. Michael O’Rourke’s Queer Theory GCAS Seminar (Free & Open to the Public)

  1. Pingback: GCAS Interviews Prof. Michael O’Rourke | GCAS--The BLOG

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This entry was posted on January 19, 2015 by .
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