Inaugural Interdisciplinary Queer Studies Symposium

University of California, Merced

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Keynote: Eric A. Stanley, UC Riverside

Eric A. Stanley is an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Along with Chris Vargas, Eric directed the films Homotopia (2006) and Criminal Queers (2015). A coeditor of the anthology Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2011) which won the Prevention for a Safe Society award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, Eric’s other writing can be found in the journals Social Text, American Quarterly, Women and Performance, and TSQ.


Queer Death, De(con)struction, and Contagion: Affective Rhythms in Interdisciplinary Studies

When we consider “death” and “contagion,” we operate with a negative affect, indicative of the queer. According to Halberstam, in the Queer Art of Failure, “In order to inhabit the bleak territory of failure we sometimes have to write and acknowledge dark histories” (23). Thus we question and problematize how “contagion” operates in dominant society as a reductive concept, against the living and for the dead; we find this an incomplete conclusion. Contagion carries with it a particular resistance, pushing against pathologized bodies, creating quite the cacophony—queer, as a resistive carrier, absorbing all sickness, illness, and discrimination, while de(con)structing as a viralized contagion [we are queerly ok with this].

We believe a rhythmic affect entails the enactment of the queer, “prevented from emerging in the first place, often by techniques that intimately involved the body” (Freeman 11). We consider deaths’ pluralisms, accepting its sonorous memory, phenomenological and somatized haps, through bodies, both liminal and transitive—our interrogations are always already borderlands de(con)structing.

This symposium seeks explorations of modalities and spatialities of death and contagion, and a de(con)structing of realities—“because concrete reality is socially constructed and, arguably, because the social construction of reality finds its template in the construction of what might be called the physical or the flesh as body” (Scott 57). How do variously defined bodies embrace death worlds? How do they (re)pulse? What are the limitations of a politics that employs death, de(con)struction, and contagion? How do bodies look toward or into death? If death could make a sound, what would its rhythms and re(verb)erations be? And how does this effect affect? So, what of this affect is hegemonically interpretable as contagion of defective realities?


Possible topics can include but are not limited to:

  • Demise
  • Death and dying
  • Queer death
  • Rhythms of contagion
  • Modalities of temporal and spatial death
  • Rumor as contagion
  • Biopolitics
  • Necropolitics
  • Erotics of contagion
  • Deconstruction
  • Destruction and diaspora
  • Creative forces of destruction, not limited to deconstruction
  • Via negativa
  • Cacophony as radical soundscape
  • Musical cartographies
  • Cognitive science approaches to affect studies
  • Literary studies
  • Melancholia as resistance and mourning as protest
  • Memory
  • Postmortem (Re)animation
  • Methods of affective interrogation in bioarcheaology
  • Transnational feminist theories
  • Somatic and corporeal approaches to death
  • Phenomenological perceptions of death
  • Critical feminist and trans* readings of death


Although we encourage refined papers, we welcome alternative methodologies and presentations (i.e. dance presentation, performance, art, etc.). We will accept a limited number of posters. We also welcome abstracts of any format for 10-15 minute presentations. This symposium is committed to producing effective, sustained, and ignited conversations in a collaborative environment for scholars, activists, and artists whose work critically engages with death, queerness, affect theory, (im)mobility, and everyday death worlds.

Please submit proposals of no more than 250 words to The deadline to submit a proposal is March 1st, 2016. Notifications will be sent by March 5th. The symposium will be held April 9th, 2016 at University of California, Merced.