Lateral Aesthetics (Edited Collection)

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Co-Editors Elizabeth Adan and Benjamin Bateman
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In her essay "Slow Death: Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency," cultural theorist Lauren Berlant contrasts "lateral agency" with the sovereign agency of the neoliberal subject. Where sovereign agency builds, intends, and extends the self via a purposive and propulsive will, lateral agency floats, spreads, and spaces out, interrupting the breakneck pace of capitalist production and suspending the self's forward motion. For Berlant, lateral agency symptomizes the exhaustion and attrition of the individual's will, at the same time as it expresses a kind of pleasure in practices of self-abeyance. Lateral agency is thus, paradoxically, both a form of what Berlant calls "slow death" at the hands of and a mode of surviving (if only barely) the relentless demands of occupational, domestic, and affective labor. This interdisciplinary volume will expand Berlant's concept by exploring three interrelated questions: how does lateral agency look, feel, and sound; where (e.g., in what contexts or venues) does it take shape; and in what aesthetic forms and practices does it manifest? In other words, the volume will offer additional examples of lateral agency at the same time as it will probe forms that figure laterally, such as narratives that appear to go nowhere or so-called avatar artist projects. We welcome 750 word abstracts, due July 1; if accepted, full-length essays will be due by January 1, 2014 (5000-8000 words, MLA Format). We are particularly interested in work that critically situates lateral agency within systems of economic, gender, sexual, and racial oppression. Please send abstracts (with a short biographical statement) and/or inquiries to both…

Elizabeth Adan, Assistant Professor of Art and Design, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,


Benjamin Bateman, Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities, Cal State Los Angeles,