Lateral Aesthetics (Collected Edition) UPDATE

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California State University
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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, hovers, 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, particularly individuals of the working class, at the same time as it expresses a kind of pleasure in practices of self-abeyance. Lateral agency is thus, paradoxically, a form of what Berlant calls "slow death," epitomized by overeating leading to obesity, and a mode of surviving, if only barely, the relentless demands of occupational, domestic, and affective labor. This interdisciplinary volume aims to expand Berlant's promising concept by exploring two questions: how does lateral agency look, feel, and sound, and how does it manifest in aesthetic forms and practices? 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. We welcome 750 word abstracts, due by August 5th, from scholars in art history, the visual arts, english, comparative literature, theater studies, performance studies, musicology, ethnic studies, and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. If accepted, full-length essays will be due by September 1st (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. We will approach publishers after we have reviewed abstracts and have a firmer sense of the collection. Please send abstracts and 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,