Remembering Eve Sedgwick: The beginnings, present and future of queer theory

A half-day symposium

A report on this event is available

featuring

Melissa Hardie
Anna Gibbs
Elizabeth Stephens
Elizabeth McMahon
Chair: Melissa Gregg

2-5pm, August 28, New Law School Seminar Room 442, University of Sydney

Supported by The Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at The University of Sydney, The SOPHI Gender and Modernity Group, and the ARC Cultural Research Network.

Cultural theories of identity and subjectivity in the Humanities have been significantly influenced by critiques of binaristic thought, including those pioneered in Eve Sedgwick's writing. This legacy provides the foundation for the work of a number of feminist and queer scholars featured in this workshop, which aims to reflect on Sedgwick’s intellectual contribution in the wake of her death in April 2009.

Despite the amount of cultural research now exploring issues of identity relating to gender, sexuality and the body—and the institutional contexts of women's and gender studies departments in the academy today—young researchers are somewhat historically distant from the material and political conditions informing these theoretical interventions of previous decades. Additionally, young scholars pursuing these topics beyond major capital cities generally miss out on discussions with a critical mass of scholars with expertise and international interdisciplinary experience in the area. This seminar offers a valuable opportunity for an extended discussion of queer identity and scholarship for researchers in a range of fields.

The workshop will be held at The University of Sydney as part of the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies’ regular seminar series. The event will extend beyond the usual timeslot for these seminars to a full day’s events.

In the morning session, postgrads and early career researchers will meet as a group and spend time introducing themselves and their research topics. The discussion, which will be led by Dr Melissa Gregg and Dr Anna Hickey-Moody from the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, will also cover the impact of Sedgwick’s work, the ways in which queer theory is taught and understood in respective institutional settings, and the context for local queer politics and activism in various cities and states. This get-to-know you session will give ECRs a chance to develop links with each other and knowledge of key disciplinary and intellectual precedents heading in to the public seminar.

Lunch will be provided.

The afternoon session, from 2-5pm, will be a seminar featuring guests from a range of universities. Dr Melissa Hardie (USyd) will present a feature discussion paper, the "Extinction of the Closet", analysing Sedgwick's _Epistemology of the Closet_ and its subsequent impact. This will be followed by a series of shorter reflections from a range of invited scholars: Associate Professor Anna Gibbs (UWS), Dr Elizabeth McMahon (UNSW) and Dr Elizabeth Stephens (UQ). These will examine the different strands of Sedgwick's thought, including personal reflections on the trajectory of queer theory and its prospects during the past decade.

To benefit from this collection of speakers and the morning introductory session, eight interstate ECRs and postgraduates will be selected for travel and accommodation support in Sydney for one night. Selection will be based on competitive application demonstrating the workshop’s relevance to current research. A one page justification and brief CV should be sent. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet speakers, ask questions and participate in general discussion during the event.

A networking drinks function following the seminar will offer further opportunities for ECRs and other guests to interact and build connections after the formal proceedings conclude. This event will also serve as the launch for the Gender and Modernity Research Group based in the Department.

For more information, inquiries and to submit an application for funding support, please contact Melissa Gregg: mgregg@usyd.edu.au
Applications will be due by 5pm on August 12.

Report

Melissa Hardy presentingThe CRN ECR and Identities Nodes recently sponsored interstate postgraduate students to attend a special seminar dedicated to the life and work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. The event was organised by Melissa Gregg at the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. The day consisted of a morning "teach-in" style workshop for local and interstate postgrads who came together to learn more about the significance of Sedgwick's writing in an historical and political context. The conversation also extended to an account of the disciplinary formations influenced by queer theory. The group of 25 students and gender studies staff pooled knowledge about the conceptual territory Sedgwick's career covered and also shared ideas being explored in current research projects. This vibrant and informative start to the day gave students an important critical overview leading in to the afternoon session.

The second half of the day was a formal public seminar featuring four invited guests. The papers were:

The quality line-up drew an impressive crowd of over 100 attendees from across the Sydney region, as well as visitors from Wollongong, Canberra and regional NSW universities. The large number of young scholars at the event and the successive generations of feminist and queer scholars and activists present were strong evidence that the legacy of queer theory and scholarship is alive and well. Following an entertaining and often moving tribute provided by the speakers the event concluded with drinks and Professor Meaghan Morris launching the Gender and Modernity Research Group in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies.

Responses from sponsored ECRS:

"Just wanted to send a quick thank-you for organising and providing funding support for the Sedgwick symposium. It was a fantastic day and I certainly got a lot out of it plus met some terrific people." (Janet, Deakin)

"I enjoyed the day so much and really got a lot out of it, except it asked more questions than it answered for me in terms of the theory in my thesis, but that's good too! I'm so glad to have met you and that I was able to be part of Friday. You did such a wonderful job organising it and I appreciate you including me so much. Hopefully our paths will cross again sometime soon!" (Jo, UQ)