Afterlives of the Antisocial

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Postmodern Culture
contact email: 

For nearly two decades, the “antisocial thesis” has enthralled queer theoretical thought, permeating a variety of debates surrounding relationality, sexuality, gender, race, psychoanalysis, and temporality. Christened by Robert L. Caserio during an infamous 2005 MLA panel, the antisocial thesis, Caserio elaborates, described a “decade of explorations of queer unbelonging” positioned against an intensifying “gay rage for normalizing sociability.” As Robyn Wiegman warns, however, the antisocial thesis “is not ‘a’ thesis. It is an arena of interpretative battle.” Elaborating on the discussion generated by the 2022 MLA panel on Leo Bersani’s Homos, a text that affirmed “a potentially revolutionary inaptitude—perhaps inherent in gay desire—for sociality as it is known,” this special issue of Postmodern Culture, “Afterlives of the Antisocial,” attempts to reevaluate this “arena,” including its scope and subsequent reverberations, dissents, and adoptions of its claims.

This special issue offers the opportunity to pursue resonances of the antisocial across disciplines and fields, whether they be in queer theory, feminist theory, trans studies, Crip theory, queer of color critique, afro-pessimism, etc. We seek work that engages with the “antisocial” and its cognates, as well as work that takes the concept as an object of critique. What, for instance, has the “antisocial thesis” and its theoretical kin enabled us to understand, and what has it misconstrued or overlooked? Are there other, better theses of the antisocial than the ones to which we are accustomed? What forms of sociality persist in the legacy and the wake of the antisocial?

Among these registers (and more), this special issue thereby aspires to engage broadly with the “antisocial” as simultaneously a genealogy of thought, a frame through which to discern contemporary antagonisms of the social, and an object of criticism and point of departure.

Possible topics may include but are by no means limited to:
• Leo Bersani’s theories of sociality
• Queer theory after Bersani
• The antisocial thesis’s textual genealogy (Homosexual Desire, Homos, No Future)
• Resistances to the antisocial (e.g., Muñoz’s call to “bury antirelational queer theories”)
• The antisocial thesis and afro-pessimism
• Affect and antisociality
• Aesthetic form, art and the anti-social
• The antisocial thesis and blackness
• Sociality after the antisocial (ie.g., “angular sociality,” “hypersociality)
• The antisocial and notions of the common, community, communal, and non-belonging
• Identity, post-identity, anonymity, impersonality
• Queer monadology, Queer solitude
• Antisociality, dissociation, and Neurodivergence
• Social reproductions
• The Antisocial Thesis in Queer Theory and Trans Studies (“Queer Theory’s Evil Twin”—Stryker)
• Queer futurity
• Queer negativity/queer pessimism

Prospective contributors should submit completed articles to:
Austin Svedjan (svedjan@sas.upenn.edu) and John Paul Ricco (john.ricco@utoronto.ca) with “Antisocial Submission” in the subject line by January 31, 2023.

Postmodern Culture does not have a specific word length requirement and can publish long pieces. Essays appearing in the journal tend to be between 6,000 and 9,000 words. Submission guidelines and more information can be found at https://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/postmodern-culture.