David Kurnick: “The Queer 90’s and our Method Melodramas”

January 29, 2018
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
311 Denney Hall
Kurnick Lecture

We are by now veterans of the method wars: reparative vs. paranoid reading, surface vs. symptomatic reading, description vs. interpretation, critique vs. post-critique.  This talk claims that these determinedly dualistic debates offer not new ways to interpret texts but new ways to feel about what we're up to when we do.  More than offering a new hermeneutics, this work has popularized a series of character sketches of the academic critic as someone no one would possibly want to be.  These debates forget many things about literary study.  But this talk claims that 90s queer theory is the object of a specific amnesia in this miniature tradition, and argues that recovering that history might help us think differently about our method melodramas.

Graduate Workshop: Friday, March 9th @ 10:00am in 311 Denney

Professor Kurnick’s workshop will focus on the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, one of the most important queer theorists of the 1990s. Participating students will be asked to read two essays by Sedgwick, includng “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading,” and one of Henry James’ Prefaces.

To register for the graduate workshop, click here.

David Kurnick is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University. He is the author of Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel (Princeton University Press, 2012), which was short listed for the Modernist Studies Association book prize and won the Sonia Rudikoff prize for the best first book in Victorian studies.  His critical work has appeared in ELH, PMLA, Raritan, Victorian Studies, NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Victorian Literature and Culture, Public Books, The Henry James Review, boundary 2 and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, among other venues.  He has also translated Julio Cortázar's Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (2014).

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