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“Is Queer Theory Erotophobic?”

We are immensely pleased to welcome our inaugural speaker, Dr. Gila Ashtor, to discuss her forthcoming monograph, Homo Psyche: On Queer Theory and Erotophobia (Fordham University Press 2021).

Zoom Link: https://lsu.zoom.us/j/95840400350

Talk Abstract:

Can Queer theory be erotophobic? This project proceeds from the perplexing observation that for all of its political agita, rhetorical virtuosity and intellectual restlessness, Queer theory conforms to a model of erotic life that is psychologically conservative and narrow. An analysis that focuses on the metapsychological dimension of queer theorizations will demonstrate why, in spite of how bold and emancipatory key queer formulations might initially seem, the field maintains an uninterrogated reliance on erotophobic psychological conventions that ultimately reproduces an erotophobic relationship to sexuality. Indeed, using the French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche (1924-2012) as a new theoretical resource, erotophobic can be defined as the denial of ‘enlarged’ sexuality that leads to and enforces the belief in psychic self-begetting. To particularize the effects of this problem, I will discuss a chapter of my book which looks specifically at Lee Edelman’s popular take on queer negativity in order to demonstrate that notwithstanding its provocative rhetoric, or how extreme denouncing the “child” may seem, the attack on the figurative or hypothetical “child” actually defends and perpetuates an erotophobic relationship to sexuality.

Gila Ashtor is a critical theorist, psychoanalyst, and writer. She teaches at Columbia University in New York City and is an editor of Studies in Gender and Sexuality. She trained at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) and is a licensed psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She is the author of an experimental memoir, Aural History, and a book on psychoanalytic theory, Exigent Psychoanalysis: Jean Laplanche’s Critical Interventions (forthcoming from Routledge 2021).