Department of Anthropology

Lauren Berlant: The Commons: Affect and Infrastructure

Mon, April 1, 2013 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM

"The Commons: Affect and Infrastructure"

A talk by Lauren Berlant, English, University of Chicago

There’s a romantic story about the common, a pastoral story of nature and human creativity; and an anti-pastoral one of rage, exploitation, theft, loss, mourning, and radical resistance. At the same time there is  ambivalence toward  being in common, as properties of relationality and relations of property and intimacy encounter each other frictionally.  This segment of a longer work focuses on Waldo Emerson, Juliana Spahr, and Liza Johnson's attempts to risk making and inhabiting the unbearable commons, addressing the sacrifices a non-universalist common might entail, including the priority of the human (the persistence of the inhuman, the aspiration to the impersonal, the recognition of activity in all things), on the other side of which is an optimism about aesthetics, and, in particular, an ethics and politics of analogy.
Lauren Berlant teaches English at the University of Chicago, where she also runs the LGBTQ Studies Project and the experimental scene called “Worlding/Writing” at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory. Her work on sexuality and political emotion includes The Anatomy of National Fantasy (1991), The Queen of America Goes to Washington City (1997), The Female Complaint (2008), Cruel Optimism (2011), and Desire/Love (2012). She is the editor of Intimacy; Compassion; Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the National Interest (with Lisa Duggan); and a two-volume number of Critical Inquiry, On the Case (2007).
Generously co-sponsored by the Humanities Institute.

For further information please contact Adriana Dingman at

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