Vortrag von Bonnie Honig: »›We are gathered here today‹ – Performativity and Contagion from Eve Sedgwick and J.L. Austin to Hortense Spillers and Patricia Williams«

In Euripides’ Bacchae, the 2015 film The Fits, and John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1970), refusal is contagious. But each represents a different model of contagion. In the Bacchae, refusal breaks out all-at-once; in The Fits, a contagion passes through a community in a sequence, which allows it to mutate as it travels; and in A Theory of Justice, refusal is a contagion that turns out to be isolable. In each of these examples, efforts to contain the contagion are made via »deformatives«, Eve Sedgwick’s term for Austinian performative utterances that are, she says, »uniquely contagious«. Might that contagion be reworked for democratic theory? Deformatives shame or stigmatize gender queerness which, Sedgwick argues, is marginalized by Austin’s focus on the »I do« of the straight couple as an exemplary performative in How To Do Things with Words. I read Austin differently, noting his repeated and neglected turn not just to the couple but also to the crowd, which is gathered and dispersed by a bull that may be about to charge. This is the first of three counterexamples explored here that may summon a democratic theory of contagion: each isolates, mutates or emancipates a contagion.

The lecture is part of the workshop »Resistibility, Interruption, Refusal. Agonistic Subjectivity and Feminist Politics«. If you want to attend the workshop, please register until January 13th (trautmann@em.uni-frankfurt.de).

The lecture will also be streamed on YouTube.

Ort: Institut für Sozialforschung