2017 IHR Distinguished Lecturer Lauren Berlant


The Institute for Humanities Research is honored to host Lauren Berlant as the 2017 IHR Distinguished Lecturer. On March 23rd, she will give a lecture titled "On Being in Life Without Wanting the World (Living with Ellipsis)." This talk is located in a shattered, yet intelligible zone defined by being in life without wanting the world—a state traversing misery and detachment that, the talk claims, is well-known to historically and structurally subordinated people (people of color, of non-normative sexuality, proletarianized laborers). Reading with Claudia Rankine (Don’t Let Me Be Lonely), Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel and Tom Ford 2009 film A Single Man, and Harryette Mullen (Sleeping with the Dictionary, 2002), it describes life at the limit of optimism in terms of a dissociative poetics.

Lauren Berlant is George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Her most recent books are Cruel Optimism (Duke University Press, 2011), which addresses precarious publics and the aesthetics of affective adjustment in the contemporary US and Europe and the co-authored book Sex, or the Unbearable (Duke University Press, 2014), a dialogue/argument with Lee Edelman about how negativity—the violence of self-difference—structures subjects and worlds, and whether and how repair is possible through theory, love, or politics. Berlant is currently working on flat affect and comedy, and has just produced Comedy: An Issue, a special number of Critical Inquiry, which she is co-editing with Sianne Ngai. She blogs at Supervalent Thought and is a founding member of the art/activist group Feel Tank Chicago.

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Carson Ballroom

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