In Spring 2000, Eve Sedgwick presented an exhibition called “In the Bardo” at the CUNY Graduate Center. In conjunction with the exhibition, Sedgwick gave a talk titled “Come As You Are.” Maggie Nelson, then a doctoral candidate, wrote about the event, and recently, our Ti Meyerhoff was delighted to come across the article in the publication CUNY Matters. Nelson has graciously allowed us to reproduce it here.
Nelson describes Sedgwick’s “installation of her fiber art, in the form of a dozen or so large stuffed figures hanging from the ceiling, clothed in different kinds of cloth, paper, felt, and soie mariée, in varying shades of indigo blue.” As Nelson explains, the bardo “(Tibetan bar=in between + do=suspended,thrown)” referred to by Sedgwick “is the space between contracting a terminal illness and death itself…. The hanging figures Sedgwick created represent aspects of her experience in the bardo: ‘the disorienting and radically denuding bodily sense generated by medical imaging processes and illness itself’ on the one hand, and ‘the material urges to dress, to ornament, to mend, to re-cover, and heal’ on the other.”
The talk was accompanied by slides. Describing the “three-tiered presentation,” Nelson writes “Sedgwick spoke from a podium in the rear as we in the audience faced the screen. This increased the effect of her voice coming from a strangely suspended place and evoked a sense of meditation rather than scrutiny. The large stuffed bodies dangling in the room both obscured and framed one’s vision. When I tried to look at Sedgwick, for example, I would see her torso, but a translucent blue shawl hanging from one of the figures covered her face.”
Nelson calls Sedgwick’s talk “emotional, inspiring, unforgettable.” Nelson studied with Sedgwick at the Graduate Center and, much more recently, has written extensively and brilliantly, in her book The Argonauts, about Sedgwick’s work and its influence on her.
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The Boston University Gender + Sexuality Studies Group has announced that the Sixth Annual Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Memorial Lecture will be offered by Professor Roderick Ferguson, a pioneer of queer of color critique. His lecture is titled “The Diasporas of Black Queer Art.”
Professor Ferguson is the author of The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (2011) and Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (2004). He teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The lecture will be given March 15th, 2016 at 5:00pm in the BU Photonics Colloquium Room (8 St. Mary’s Street, 9th floor). A reception will follow.
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A conference marking the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire will be held on October 23. The Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center is hosting the event in collaboration with the History of Art Department at the University of York. The day-long conference will have three sessions of short talks reflecting on the book, its reception, and its continuing influence. There will also be a panel discussion among a number of the editors who published her work. Further information, including the schedule and a list of participants, is available here.
Left image: Eve Sedgwick writing Between Men, circa 1982.
Right image: Manet’s painting “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe,” altered by Sedgwick for the cover of Between Men.
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Professor Saba Mahmood spoke on “Moral Injury and Muhammed’s Cartoons: Thinking Reparatively with Eve Sedgwick.” Mahmood is Associate Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley. As in years past, the Boston University Gender + Sexuality Studies Group organized the lecture. Here is their description:
“Taking its cue from Eve Sedgwick, this talk offers a ‘reparative reading’ of the ongoing struggle over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed in Europe. Rather than read these debates as a standoff between religious taboos and secular freedoms, Mahmood unpacks the distinct epistemological and interpretive stakes at the heart of such conflicts.
“Professor Mahmood’s work focuses on the interchange between religious and secular politics in postcolonial societies with special attention to issues of embodiment, cultural hermeneutics, law, and gender/sexuality. Her work is best known for its interrogation of liberal assumptions about the proper boundary between ethics and politics, freedom and unfreedom, the religious and the secular, and agency and submission. She is the author of The Politics of Piety (2nd edition, 2011) and, with Talal Assad, Wendy Brown, and Judith Butler, Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech (2009).”
A video of Professor Mahmood’s talk will be posted on BU’s Honoring Eve website.
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Two new essays about Eve Sedgwick’s critical writing have recently appeared. Professor Anne-Lise François’s essay “Late Exercises in Minimal Affirmatives” appears in Theory Aside, a collection edited by Jason Potts and Daniel Stout (Duke 2014). In her essay, François discusses “the lateral movement by which in their late work Barthes and Sedgwick set aside the burden of discontented, perfective energies and leave off prying, suspicious efforts to uncover concealed truth. They prefer instead a form of aesthetic engagement that moves laterally, arranging its materials side by side….” In her epigraph, François quotes Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling: “Beside is an interesting preposition…because there is nothing very dualistic about it; a number of elements may lie alongside one another, though not an infinity of them.”
Jonathan A. Allan’s essay “Falling in Love with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick” appears in a special “Queer/Affect” issue of Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature. Allan writes: “What does it mean to love a writer? This essay explores a number of writers and critics who have expressed love for Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. I argue that love affords another model for thinking through questions of influence, particularly a theory of influence informed by queer theory and affect studies.”
We would be grateful if readers let us know about new work related to Eve Sedgwick. Please contact us at info[a]evekosofskysedgwick.net.