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Notes Towards Day 14: Queering it All

Anne Dalke's picture

I. 2:25-2:45--coursekeeping
--this afternoon @ 4:30 in Chase Auditorium @ HC: Ellen Samuels' talk about us watching conjoined twins
--on Monday, Oct. 28,
from 7-9 p.m. in Carpenter 21, Guest Filmmaker Chris Vargas
will introduce MOTHA: Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art, a multimedia
slide show of trans artistic production/thinking critically about trans visual history
would look like...
--spreading the word re: the new 360 on eco-literacy (want to learn more about eco-feminism?!?)

--next week, we will return to questions of transgender--
really, of intersectionality: transgender, CP, and rural identity,
all wrapped up in a memoir by Eli Clare called Exile and Pride
(it's 180 pp; try to read them all by Tuesday--and bring the text w/ you
(pretty embarrassing on Tuesday, our not having copies of the text...
that's the baseline in a English class...)

--you should also begin thinking about your next 5-pp. web event, due a week from Sun, 11/3
I'm not requiring writing conferences, and/but we will spend some time in class next Thursday
brainstorming topics & ways to approach them, w/ one another; so!
by classtime next Thursday, you need to have a starting point to discuss w/ your classmates

the prompt is, as always, quite general
(vs. "I wish that the assignments were more straightfoward"):
your first web event was about self-presentation;
this one goes beyond the self to think about institutions,
and about the multiple intersecting identities w/in them

how might institutional structures be re-made for intersectional identities?
where might you locate this question? what is your take on this question? what are you curious about?
making women's colleges more transfriendly? making lib'l arts colleges more accessible to
various forms of disability? or mental difference? do you want to think about classroom
structures? college admissions policies or accomodations? women's rights' organizations?

II. 2:45-3:15--a great deal to process/catch up on:
--Zadie Smith's visit, telling us we are all going to die? (very existential...)
--our staging of the privilege of silence, and the privilege of talking, last class before break?
--processing Clare and Kevin's visit? intersectionality? excessibility? cripping?
--on Sunday night, you have a posting due: so post on any/all of these topics!

--mid-semester course evaluations
(speaking of altering institutional structures!)
there was lots to celebrate, lots that's working, deliberative attention to structure, power;
desire to keep talking about your papers w/ one another, before and after they are due;
a few requests for more theory, more lectures (won't happen; you're on your own for that research...); &
a request for better understanding about how you are going to be graded:
this is all laid out @ top of the course homepage: Guidelines for Checklist and Final Portfolio

I also noticed one very strong thread needing adjustment:
MargaretRachelRose: I just need to be able to externalize these discoveries…that’s the thing I’ve most struggled with so far.

there are some times when we discuss touchy subjects when I can feel the scared silence that everyone shares…sometimes I want to ask a question but I don’t want to be judged…the last class we had before break was beginning to help with that silence….

: many of us have realized that we feel similarly about controversial topics. We don’t want to offer others and feel ostracized if our viewpoints aren’t shared...However, we’ll never learn if we don’t ask questions or contribute points that may not bode well with everyone. When we did that exercise last Thursday that banned us from talking about the things we cared about, I realized how hurtful it can be to the whole class when we constantly censor ourselves….

Juliah: As far as class discussion go, I feel as though we have begun sinking into the same hole most of classes fall into, where a select few do all of the talking… I do not make as many contributions as I would like…

EmmaBE: I’m still getting ove rhte fear of saying something “wrong.”

Kwilkinson: I do wish that others would talk more in class…I hope that we are all able to be comfortable with one another and speak out minds, without fear of being judged….I also believe that debate is healthy and that often times, that is when conversation is the most productive.

ccassidy: at times it seems like a majority of the calss is hesitant to speak, myself included…the exercise we did before break was really controversial…but if we did an exercise like that once a week, the class might get evern more comfortable with each other….

Amoylan: I know I need to involve myself in the class discussion more….

sschurtz: I still have reservations about speaking.

pipermartz: I do wish that we had a wider participation of students…I worry that we’re not hearing ALL perspectives. The large circle of chairs can become very intimidating…to speak is difficult.

Cat: We don’t talk enough…we don’t really challenge things as much as we could, especially if it could result in an “inappropriate” comment that might show that the speaker isn’t checking their privilege and having problematic views. I think we can work on the silence by actually talking (and talking about the things we don’t tend to).

Samuel.terry: I have found class discussion at times very frustrating. Open dialogue is impossible if people are tethered to their fear of being wrong or offensive. I am hopeful this is the process of changing and urge everyone (myself included) to have heart!

Erin McDermott: I still hold myself back for fear of being wrong because al of the vocal voices in class are very aware and and knowledgeable on the issues at hand…the structure is helpful for the more commanding voices but if you have any hesitation on a fast-moving topic you’ll be washed away

Celeste: Obviously we need to accept our ignorance…A fair amount of the time, I feel a charge in the room. Nobody wants to be offensive, nobody wants to cross a line…there is a specific pressure to be careful and sound correct all the time, which leads to this self censoring…it does feel as though we have lost the initial nakedness of thought that we worked with at the start of the semester. WE CAN DO BETTER.

so: aside from using Serendip/small groups/preparing/trying harder individually...
anything we can do structurally, collectively to address these concerns?

III. 3:15-3:30--for today, I asked you to read two essays about queerness,
Judith/Jack Halberstam's “Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies,"
and Ellen Samuels' response, "Cripping Anti-Futurity, or,
If You Love Queer Theory So Much, Why Don’t You Marry It?"

they both link queerness to questions of time, of temporality, of the future
count to 6, break into groups of four, and take 15 minutes to figure out this connection:
1) what is "normative" time? (what marks it? are you keeping to it?)
2) what is "queer" time? (how might that be figured? have you experience it?)
3) how might this apply to our last discussion, about making women's colleges accessible to transmen?

IV. 3:30-3:45--return to large group:
Halberstam's work is about more than accommodation (and it should push your thinking):
it's a radical critique of normative temporality, space, reproductive logics
Halberstam argues for keeping "transgenderism alive as a meaningful designation of
unpredictable gender
identities and practices"; refusing the category of womanhood;
"unbecoming women," "unthinking sex....."

* "If we refuse to become women, what happens to feminism?"

* What happens to the historical mission of women's colleges
["the goal of empowerment... is at the heart of a women’s
college education"] "in a queer time and place," a moment 
of gender flexibility, a "post-gender" world?

* How might a transgender task force accomodate some Halberstamian thinking?
(imagine yourselves, for example, as admissions officers, traditions mistresses,
faculty devoted to getting more women into the sciences...)

* What is Samuels' critique of Halberstam about? (intersectionality!)

IV. Anne's Reading Notes: "Cripping Anti-Futurity"
cf. normative time (for completing a graduate degree), w/
Halberstam's strange temporalities defined explicitly against parenthood
--a radical contraction of queerness
AIDS crisis shaped queer time to value present compression
disability a submerged term in Halberstam's analysis:
haunting present absence of queer disabled body
See also Lee Edelman's No Future: outside the consensus of reproductive futurism
cf. "straight time," shaped by beliefs in children's health,
w/ extended queer adolescence, site of resistance, possibility, refusal to grow up
cf. disabled children like Ashley X who do not get to grow up
(medical intervention to make her body more manageable)
queer time: "potentiality of life unscripted by family conventions"

V. “Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies":
"How can a relational system be reached through sexual practices? be 'gay' try and define and develop a way of life" (Foucault).

"the map of resistance is ot simply the underside of the map of domination
...each gives the lie to the other" (Pile)

Queer uses of time and space opposition to the institutions of
family, heterosexuality, and reproduction. They also develop according to
other logics of location, movement, and identification...try to think about
queerness as an outcome of strange temporalities, imaginative life schedules,
and eccentric economic practices...detach queerness from sexual identity...
the existence of these relations in space and in..time mark out the...menace
of homosexual life...willfully eccentric modes of being (p. 1).

Queer time perhaps emerges most spectacularly...within those gay communities
whose horizons of possibility have been severely diminished by the AIDS epidemic...
The constantly diminishing future creates a new emphasis on the here.... urgency of
being...expands the potential of the moment....Queer time...exploits the potential of
..."the transient, the fleeting, the contingent"....And yet queer also about the
potentiality of a life unscripted by the conventions of family, inheritance, and child rearing
...we rethink the adult/youth binary...queer subcultures...lie outside of those paradigmatic
markers of life experience--namely, birth, marriage, reproduction, and death (p. 2).

respectability, and notions of the normal on which it depends, may be upheld by a
middle-class logic of reproductive temporality....we...pathologize modes of living that concern for longevity....long periods of stability are considered to be desirable
...But ludic temporality....reveals the artificiality of our privileged constructions of time (pp. 4-5).

The time of reproduction is ruled by a biological clock...Family time refers to the normative
scheduling of daily life...The time of intheritance refers to an overview of generational time
...It also glances ahead to...the future of...national stability...hyptothetical temporality...
demands protection in the way of insurance politics, health care, and wills (p. 5).

A "queer" adjustment in...time...produces new conceptions of space...nonnormative logics
and organization of community, sexual identity, embodiment, and activity...once one leaves
the temporal frames of bourgeois reproduction and family, longevity, risk/safety, and inheritance.
"Queer spece" refers to...queer counterpublics (p. 6). organized according to the logic of capital accumulation...Waiting for Godot
can be a defamiliarization of time spent...nothing has been postponed and
nothing will be resumed (p. 7).

space is naturalized in relation to use values...hegemonic constructions of time and
space are uniquely gendered and sexualized...a separation of spheres graphically
represented the gendered logic of the public/private binary...histories of raciilization
cannot avoid spatial conceptions of time...histories of immigration, diaspora, and
forced migration (p. 8).

Reproductive time and family time are, above all, heteronormative time/space
constructs....all kinds of people...opt to live outside of reproductive and familial
time as well as on the edges of logics of labor and production...By doing so, they
also often live outside the logic of capital accumulation (p. 10).

a "moment," a persistent present," or a "queer temporality" overlooked by
Marxist geographers for whom the past represents the logic for the present,
and the future represents the fruition of this logic (p. 11).

The gender-ambiguous individual today represents a very different set of
assumptions ... than the gender-inverted subject of the early twentieth century
...the transgender body has emerged as...a kind of heroic fulfillment of postmodern
promises of gender part of a "post-gender" world..the idea of "labeling"
becomes a sign of oppression...uniqueness cannot be captured (pp. 18-19).

I hope [to] begin a dialogue about the meaning of gender variance in queer
communities that moves beyond claims of either uniqueness or unilateral oppression,
and beyond the binary division of flexibility or rigidity...This book tries to keep
transgenderism alive as a meaningful designation of unpredictable gender
identities and practices (p. 21).