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  • Mon
    20
    Feb
    2023

    Pseudo-autobiography and sex negativity in Kathy Acker

    12-13:30Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent
    Lunch seminar

    Cover of The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula by the Black Tarantula (Acker’s pseudonym)

    Tessel Veneboer is a PhD student in English Literature at Ghent University. She specializes in queer theory and experimental literature and is a founding member of the Sex Negativity research collective at ASCA. She is currently working on a dissertation on Kathy Acker (supported by FWO).

    Kathy Acker’s pseudo-autobiographical writing of sex work challenges the sex-positive politics of écriture féminine as well as a queer politics of embodied writing. Acker’s literary work is often read as sex-positive due to her experiments with masturbatory writing, depiction of graphic sex scenes and interest in s/m relations. My dissertation argues that the avant-garde convictions of Acker’s formal innovation are closer to “sex negativity” as they reveal the structural negativity and the nonsovereignty of the subject, “exemplified in the sexual encounter” (Edelman and Berlant 2013). If sex-positive feminism asks how sexuality can be expressed and affirmed, Kathy Acker’s sex negativity lies in a distrust of knowledge of the self. The radical pessimism of Acker’s work is not directed against sex itself, but refuses to treat sex as a moral issue and instead questions the conditions and implications of self-knowledge and the autobiographical subject.

    This lunch seminar will be on-campus only and it will take place at the faculty room of Blandijn (Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent). You can register sending an email at carla.besorabarti@ugent.be

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