[-empyre-] Week 2 - Computation and the Nonhuman

Zach Blas zachblas at gmail.com
Sun Jun 10 03:18:13 EST 2012

Hi all, Micha and I would like to thank Amanda Philips and Margaret
Rhee for kicking us off this month. For week 2, we're turning
specifically to computation and the nonhuman.

Michael Warner’s recent article “Queer and Then?” in The Chronicle of
Higher Education considers the end of queer theory alongside the
termination of Duke University’s Series Q. While the article assumes a
direct link between the end of queer theory and the body of work
published in the series, the journal simultaneously gestured to
another future for queer theory. The same day that Warner’s piece was
published a review entitled “Queer 2.0” applauded Jack Halberstam’s
2011 The Queer Art of Failure for representing “a second generation of
queer theory” and its use of low theory and unusual archives. In the
earliest academic writing on queer theory, Teresa deLauretis described
the field as a “discursive horizon” and Annamarie Jagose described it
as an “a non-identity--or even anti-identity--politics”. Yet, in their
essays, there is still little consideration of the transgender, the
transnational or the transistor.

The moniker of Queer 2.0 is useful not only because Micha and I are
invested in alternative methodologies that, like Halberstam, move
beyond high theory, but also because the phrase highlights and
emphasizes the technological and its inseparability from queerness.
Today, to think queerness requires that the human and nonhuman be
thought together, and that the human be de-centered as the primary
locus of/for queerness. Queerness must be engaged in all its
distributed materialities, human and beyond. This queerness constructs
an alternative genealogy that extends to cyberfeminism, media theory,
hacktivism, computer science, animal studies, and neuroscience. This
turn also extends beyond Western narratives of technological progress,
success, and development, and looks to a resistive repurposing of the
failed objects and techniques that circulate in a global context. New
horizons for queer theory extend beyond its original United States
centric framing, emerging out of transnational considerations and
experiences of queer immigrants, including second generation

This week, we're looking forward to learning more about queer
relations and experiences with computation and the nonhuman.

Guests this week are:

Jacob Gaboury (US) is a doctoral candidate in the department of Media,
Culture and Communication at New York University and a staff writer
for the art and technology organization Rhizome at the New Museum of
Contemporary Art. His work is concerned with media history, art and
technology and queer technologies, and he is currently finishing A
Queer History of Computing, to be published this summer through
Rhizome in partnership with Amazon.com. His dissertation project is
titled Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics, and deals
with the early history of computer graphics and their role in the
shift toward object oriented systems and design.

Jack Halberstam (US) is Professor of English, American Studies and
Ethnicity and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California.
Halberstam works in the areas of popular, visual and queer culture
with an emphasis on subcultures. Halberstam’s first book, Skin Shows:
Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (1995), was a study of
popular gothic cultures of the 19th and 20th centuries and it
stretched from Frankenstein to contemporary horror film. Her 1998
book, Female Masculinity (1998), made a ground breaking argument about
non-male masculinity and tracked the impact of female masculinity upon
hegemonic genders. Halberstam’s last book, In a Queer Time and Place:
Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005), described and theorized
queer reconfigurations of time and space in relation to subcultural
scenes and the emergence of transgender visibility. This book devotes
several chapters to the topic of visual representation of gender
ambiguity. Halberstam was also the co-author with Del LaGrace Volcano
of a photo/essay book, The Drag King Book (1999), and with Ira
Livingston of an anthology, Posthuman Bodies (1995). Halberstam
regularly speaks on queer culture, gender studies and popular culture
and publishes blogs at bullybloggers.com. Halberstam just published a
book titled The Queer Art of Failure in August 2011 from Duke
University Press and has another book coming out next year from Beacon
Press titled Gaga Feminism. ***Jack will jump into discussion toward
the end of the week.***

Homay King (US) is Associate Professor in the Department of History of
Art and Director of the Program in Film Studies at Bryn Mawr College.
She is the author of Lost in Translation: Orientalism, Cinema, and the
Enigmatic Signifier (Duke UP, 2010). Her essays on film and
contemporary art have appeared in Afterall, Camera Obscura, Discourse,
Film Quarterly, and The Quarterly Review of Film and Video. She is a
member of the Camera Obscura editorial collective. Her current project
is book about the virtual.

Michael O’Rourke (Ireland) teaches in the Department of Psychotherapy
at Independent Colleges Dublin, Ireland and he has published
extensively on the intersections between queer theory and continental
philosophy. He is currently writing a book on object oriented ontology
and speculative realism. Some of his many publications can be found
here: http://independentcolleges.academia.edu/MichaelORourke


zach blas
artist & phd candidate
literature, information science + information studies, visual studies
duke university

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