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The Ontology of the Couple

Jun 9-10, 2016

Thursday 9 June 2016


Friday 10 June 2016


Can one be queer and coupled? Or is the logic of complementarity that subtends the couple fundamentally at odds with queer existence?

In 1998 Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner wrote that ‘making a queer world has required the development of kinds of intimacy that bear no necessary relation to domestic space, to kinship, to the couple form, to property and to the nation’. Since then, however, we have witnessed the couple form move from the periphery to the center of queer politics, becoming the major vehicle through which gays and lesbians have achieved access to cultural and legal institutions as well as broader social acceptance. While before the late twentieth century same-sex relations circulated largely outside what Foucault called the ‘monogamic and conjugal cell’, today it seems even the most peripheral of sexualities have been absorbed under the couple’s ever-expanding jurisdiction.

Does the present moment require a more honest reckoning with the central role of the couple in queer politics and everyday life? Or do we need, now more than ever, to revitalize our commitment to the production of a sexual politics that would resist the ideology of the couple?

This two-day symposium brings together some of the most significant voices in Anglo-American queer theory today to address the historical, cultural, and metaphysical force of the couple—and its often unquestioned status in queer life.

Flyer (PDF)
Programme (PDF)

9 June 2016

Morning Coffee


11:15-13:00 Commitment

Heather Love
"Rebuilding the Argo: The Queer Marriage Plot"

Eng-Beng Lim


14:30-16:15 Reproduction

Elizabeth Freeman
"Shake It Off: The Temporalities of Early Shaker Celibacy"

Bobby Benedicto
"Go Fuck Yourself; or, Eat Me: Notes on Boyfriend Twins, Gay Cannibal Killers, and Queer Necroaesthetics"

16:30-18:15 Devotion

Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman
"Enslaved; Or, Another Way to Be"

Peter Coviello
"Plural: Mormon Polygamy and the Biopolitics of Secularism"

Coffee Break

19:00-21:15 Estrangement

Lee Edelman and Joseph Litvak
"Two Much: Excess, Enjoyment, and Estrangement in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train"

preceded by an Intermezzo by the organisers

10 June 2016

Welcome Coffee

14:00-15:45 Openness

Michael Cobb
"On Holding, or Your Love Life in Ruins"

Petrus Liu
"The Unhappy Marriage of New Asian Marxism and Queer Theory"

16:00-17:45 Arrangement

C. Riley Snorton

Rinaldo Walcott
"Love and the Chemical"

Coffee Break

18:30-20:15 Asymmetry

Laura Kipnis
"Powers of the Weak"

Annamarie Jagose
"Animal Attachments"

Time: 9-10 June 2016
Venue: ICI Berlin
In English

Organized by Pearl Brilmyer, Filippo Trentin, Zairong Xiang

Co-organized by Hila Amit, and in cooperation with the Zentrum für Gender- und Diversitätsforschung of the University of Tübingen (ZGD Tübingen) and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

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