NeMLA 2020: From _No Future_ to Novel Bodies Politic

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Nathan Douglas / Indiana University - Bloomington
contact email: 

In queer theory, few texts have spurred as much division and debate as Lee Edelman's 2004 polemic, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. This panel takes as its grounding premise one of this monograph's central arguments; namely, that queerness figures an irony that serves as a “corrosive force… [that] threatens, like a guillotine, to sever the genealogy that narrative syntax labors to affirm… [and] the continuity essential to the very logic of making [political] sense” (23-4). Upon its publication, Edelman's No Future drew reproach from queer theorists like Jack Halberstam, who sought to affirm queerness as a "form of negative knowing" (823) that projected a "bleak and angry" future politics (824). Instead of following Halberstam's lead in elevating objects of "low culture"—such as animated and stoner films—to "high theory," the papers on this panel return to the novel as a unique aesthetic form that, under proper conditions, leads us to the more fundamental question of the immanent relation of the sexed, narrative body to the state's institutional body politic. In her recent monograph, What is Sex?, Alenka Zupančič poses a similar relation between sex and politics as each representing an original non-relation that founds the contemporary subject. In a contemporary world where transition seems to have become the only constant, then, the task becomes one of pursuing an impossible act founded upon an original non-relation that allows us to seek out novel bodies politic. The contradictions that ought to emerge herein will serve as as good an indicator as any that the global discourses of postmodernity have done little more than act as a topical analgesic for the festering wounds of the Bildung-driven state modernity.


Abstracts due Sept 30 at