Queer Futurity (MSA Columbus)

deadline for submissions: 
April 20, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Victoria Chandler
contact email: 

Queer Futurity (MSA Columbus)

CFP, 2018 Modernist Studies Association conference (“Graphic Modernisms”)

Panel proposal for MSA Columbus, November 8-11 2018


In The Queer Art of Failure, Judith Halberstam explains that there has been a long history of queer theory that establishes the value of failure for lives lived against the grain of disciplinary forces. She enlists Lee Edelman’s rejection of the future and “the child” and José Esteban Muñoz’s “utopian refusal of social norms” as support for her argument that failure can, in fact, open up productive and useful avenues for those who resist social powers. In Queer Phenomenology, Sara Ahmed agrees that, “For a life to count as a good life, then it must return the debt of its life by taking on the direction promised as a social good, which means imagining one’s futurity in terms of reaching certain points along a life course. A queer life might be one that fails to make such gestures of return.” Queer lives, then, disrupt the social order. They do not promise a return on (or an investment in) the future, in the same way heteronormative lives invest in futurity. A queer phenomenology does not place value on objects or on the future in the same way that the dominant societal structure does. For example, capitalism places a use-value on objects that determine its worth, but queer theory exposes alternative means of determining value.

This panel investigates various forms of queer futurity within modernist literature. What kinds of alternative spaces do queer characters carve out for themselves, and how might we read those spaces as Foucauldian heterotopias? In what ways might these heterotopic spaces offer up ways in which queer subjects can live out alternatives to domination and oppression? How might a queer interruption in the course of familiar experience produce what Ahmed calls “new lines of desire”? What is the relationship between art objects and queer theory—between objects produced for capitalist use value and objects valued for different reasons? Finally, how might failure open up utopian possibilities?



Deadline: April 20. Please send a 250-300 word proposal with short bio/CV to Victoria Chandler (vec@email.sc.edu) and John Kinard (kinardja@email.sc.edu).