Sexual Disorientations: Queer Temporalities, Affects, Theologies

September 26-28, 2014

imageSome of the most recent, most significant, most discussed works in queer theory have interrogated how we conceive our relation to the future and the past. From Lee Edelman’s polemicized caution that certain forms of commitment to certain kinds of futurity serve to eradicate queerness, to José Esteban Muñoz’s insistence that queerness can be secured only by fixing our eyes on the glimmering horizon of the future, to Heather Love’s worries about our relation to the traumas and injuries of the past, to Carolyn Dinshaw’s insistence on the very queer ways the past and present long to connect, this body of work seeks to replace reliance on logics of repetition, linearity, periodicity, and teleology with images of temporal drags and co-presences, anachronisms and proximities, contaminations and touches across time. Just as the foundational works of queer theory revealed that conceptions of gender, sexuality and race are not natural or inevitable, but social and conventional—and, hence, ethical and political—this body of work underscores that even seemingly commonsensical categories like past, present and future are intimately bound up with desire and power.

But it is not just how we think about time, but also how we feel the pressure of the past and the lure of the future that matters–as the work of Lauren Berlant, Ann Cvetkovich, Carolyn Dinshaw, Judith Halberstam and Eve Sedgwick has taught us. Temporality is a political and ethical question because it has an affective resonance. Past, present and future are the sites where shame, loss, mourning, revulsion, haunting, despair, pride, satisfaction, victory, and hope are experienced, shaped and given life. The passage of time allows longing and love, identification and connection, pleasure and desire to circulate, collect and coalesce. And our affective orientation to the world, like our temporal one, far from being a foundational datum on which theoretical investigations are built, is the result of complex social and cultural processes that merit analytical attention.

Queer theorists of temporality and affect have sketched the ethical and political import of their work. Less often acknowledged or explored are the deep theological resonances of their questions. Discourses of hope and memory, transcendence and immanence, trauma and healing connect to persistent and fundamental theological tropes. Religious writers and practitioners across time and place have engaged questions about the nature of time, the character of suffering, the implacability of violence, the viability of hope and the possibility of restoration. Sacred texts from a variety of traditions provide images of creation and devastation, paradisiacal origin and utopic horizon, apocalyptic transformation and eschatological destination. Apocalyptic, eschatological and apophatic languages, frameworks and orientations pervade queer theorizing and theologizing about time, affect, history and desire. Mindful of these overlapping set of concerns and questions, this colloquium will bring together theologians, biblical scholars, historians of religion and other queer theorists to foster a more explicit theological engagement with queer theoretical investigations of affectivity and temporality.

Presenters

Kent L. Brintnall
“Who Weeps for the Sodomite?” View Abstract

Kent L. Brintnall is the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professor of Teaching at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he is affiliated with the Department of Religious Studies and the Women’s & Gender Studies Program.  He is the author of Ecce Homo: The Male-Body-in-Pain as Redemptive Figure (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and co-editor, with Jeremy Biles, of Negative Ecstasies: Georges Bataille and the Study of Religion (Fordham University Press, forthcoming).  He is currently working on a project that will stage a conversation among the work of Georges Bataille, Lee Edelman, Leo Bersani and Tim Dean.

Elizabeth Freeman
“Shakers, Not Movers: The Physiopolitics of Shaker Dance” View Abstract

Elizabeth Freeman is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis, and co-editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. She has published two books with Duke University Press, The Wedding Complex: Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture (2002) and Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (2010).

Jacqueline M. Hidalgo
“Our Book of Revelation…Prescribes Our Fate and Releases Us From It”: Scriptures as (Dis)Orientation Devices in 1990s Queer Chican@ Literature”  View Abstract

Jacqueline M. Hidalgo is Assistant Professor of Latina/o Studies and Religion at Williams College in Massachusetts. Her current book project, Reconquest of the Sacred: Scriptures, Utopias, and Revelation in Chican@ Aztlán, examines the Chican@ civil rights movement as an intervention into hemispherically American legacies and interpretations of the Book of Revelation.

Mark D. Jordan
“In Search of Queer Theology Lost” View Abstract

Mark D. Jordan is Mellon Professor of Christian Thought and Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Harvard University. His earlier books include Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 2011). His newest book will appear in October 2014 under the title Convulsing Bodies: Religion and Resistance in Foucault (Stanford University Press).

Maia Kotrosits
“Queer Persistence: On Death, History, and Longing for Endings” View Abstract

Maia Kotrosits is Assistant Professor of Religion at Denison University. Her research finds points of contact between ancient Christian/diaspora Jewish literature and contemporary cultural studies, queer and feminist theories. Surfacing themes of violence, belonging, and collective experiences of pain and loss, she finds connections and disjoints between the ancient world and some worlds of the present. She has co-written books on the ancient Coptic poem The Thunder: Perfect Mind, as well as on the Gospel of Mark. Her forthcoming book, Rethinking Early Christian Identity: Affect, Violence, and Belonging (Fortress Press, 2015) is a re-examination of the centrality of the designation “Christian” in the doing of what is called early Christian history, and a set of proposals for how to understand some New Testament and affiliated literature without it.

Joseph A. Marchal
“How Soon Is (This Apocalypse) Now?: Queer Velocities After a Corinthian Already and a Pauline Not Yet” View Abstract

Joseph A. Marchal is an associate professor of Religious Studies and affiliated faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at Ball State University. His work explores, combines, and elaborates aspects of feminist, postcolonial, and queer approaches, crossing between biblical studies and critical theories of interpretation, the ancient world and its many, very contemporary echoes and impacts. Marchal is the author of The Politics of Heaven: Women, Gender, and Empire in the Study of Paul (Fortress, 2008), Hierarchy, Unity, and Imitation: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Power Dynamics in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (2006), and the forthcoming Philippians: Historical Problems, Hierarchical Visions, and Hysterical Anxieties (Sheffield Phoenix). He is also the editor of Studying Paul’s Letters: Contemporary Perspectives and Methods (Fortress, 2012) and the forthcoming People Beside Paul: The Philippian Assembly and History from Below (SBL).  He is currently working on a book focused upon queer approaches to the strangely gendered figures echoing behind and after Paul’s letters.

Karmen MacKendrick
“Haunted by the Future” View Abstract

Karmen MacKendrick is a professor in the philosophy department at Le Moyne College (Syracuse, NY). Her work centers on and returns to a small cluster of interests: desire, language, flesh, and time, especially in their various and paradoxical entanglements. Recent works include Divine Enticement (2013), Seducing Augustine, with Virginia Burrus and Mark Jordan (2010), and Fragmentation and Memory (2008), all from Fordham University Press.

Ann Pellegrini
“Queer Structures of Religious Feeling: What Time is Now?” View Abstract

Ann Pellegrini is Professor of Performance Studies (Tisch School of the Arts) and Social and Cultural Analysis (Faculty of Arts & Science) at New York University, where she also directs the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. Her books are Performance Anxieties; Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race (1997); Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, co-authored with Janet R. Jakobsen (2003); Queer Theory and the Jewish Question, co-edited with Daniel Boyarin and Daniel Itzkovitz (2003); Secularisms, co-edited with Jakobsen (2008); and“You Can Tell Just By Looking” and 20 Other Myths About LGBT Life and People, co-authored with Michael Bronski and Michael Amico (2013). She also co-edits the “Sexual Cultures” book series at New York University Press, with José Muñoz, Tavia Nyong’o, and Joshua Chambers-Letson. She enjoys psychoanalysis and show tunes, and will begin the respecialization program at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR), in New York City, in September 2014.

Laurel C. Schneider
“More Than a Feeling: A Queer Notion of Survivance”  View Abstract

Laurel C. Schneider is Professor of Religious Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies at Vanderbilt University where she teaches courses in Christian theology, queer and gender theories, and Native American religious traditions. She is the author of Beyond Monotheism: A Theology of Multiplicity (Routledge, 2008) and Re-Imagining the Divine (Pilgrim, 1999) along with numerous articles and anthology chapters that variously work at the intersections of theology with queer, race, postcolonial, and feminist theories. She also co-edited, with Catherine Keller, Polydoxy: Theologies of Multiplicity and Relation (Routledge, 2010). She is currently at work on two books, one entitled “Promiscuous Incarnation” and the other, untitled as yet, on Native American philosophy and Christian ontology.

Linn Marie Tonstad
“Debt Time, Straight Time, Prophetic Time” View Abstract

Linn Marie Tonstad is Assistant Professor of systematic theology at Yale Divinity School. She is a constructive theologian working at the intersection of systematic theology with feminist and queer theory. She has published articles on trinitarian theology and theological method, and is currently completing a book (tentatively titled God and Difference)on the limitations of contemporary trinitarian theology from a queer and feminist perspective. Her next project will treat anthropology and ecclesiology in conversation with recent debates about queer temporality.

Respondents

Ellen T. Armour is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Feminist Theology at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Armour’s research interests are in feminist theology, theories of sexuality, race, gender, disability and embodiment, and contemporary continental philosophy. She is the author of Deconstruction, Feminist Theology, and the Problem Of Difference: Subverting the Race/Gender Divide (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999) and co-editor of Bodily Citations: Judith Butler and Religion (Columbia University Press, 2006), as well as a number of articles and book chapters. Her current book project, tentatively entitled Signs and Wonders: Theology After Modernity, will diagnose and craft a theological response to the shifts in our understanding of “man” and “his” others (sexed/raced, animal, and divine) as modernity declines.

Patrick S. Cheng, Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, was appointed to the faculty of Episcopal Divinity School in 2010. He holds a Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. from Union Theological Seminary in New York, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a B.A. from Yale College. Professor Cheng’s research interests relate to the intersections of theology, critical theory, race, and sexuality. Cheng is the author or editor of four books on queer theology, including Rainbow Theology: Bridging Race, Sexuality, and Spirit (2013), From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ (2012), and Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (2011). He has authored over fifty book chapters, journal articles, and online essays. His works have been used by seminaries and congregations around the world.

Rhiannon Graybill
 is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College. Rhiannon Graybill holds a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from UC Berkeley, with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. Her research interests include Hebrew prophetic literature, gender and sexuality in the Hebrew Bible, feminist and queer theory, and psychoanalysis and ancient Near Eastern literature. Her current work focuses on the problems of masculinity and embodiment in the Hebrew prophets.

Lynn R. Huber is associate professor and chair of the Religious Studies department at Elon University in Elon, NC. Her research focuses on Revelation’s use of gendered imagery, both feminine and masculine, as a tool of persuasion. Currently, Huber is exploring some of the various ways LGBTQ audiences relate to and engage the text of Revelation, as well as co-writing a feminist commentary on the text. Huber’s publications include Thinking and Seeing with Women in Revelation (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) and “Like a Bride Adorned”: Reading Metaphor in John’s Apocalypse (New York: T and T Clark, 2007). She contributed an essay on “Gazing at the Whore: Reading Revelation Queerly” to Bible Trouble: Queer Readings at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship (Teresa Hornsby and Ken Stone, eds., Society of Biblical Literature, 2011) and has had an article, “Sexually Explicit? Re-reading Revelation’s 144,000 Virgins as a Response to Roman Social Discourses,” reprinted in a The Best of the Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality (Joseph Gelfer, ed., Gorgias Press, 2010). A resident of Burlington, NC, Huber is active in her community teaching about the New Testament and advocating for LGBTQ inclusion and acceptance.

Shelly Rambo
 is Associate Professor of Theology at Boston University. A constructive theologian, Shelly Rambo engages the textual tradition of Christianity with particular attention to postmodern literary analysis and criticism. Trained as both a systematic and constructive theologian, she is interested in how classical themes in the Christian tradition interact with and inform contemporary discourses around suffering, trauma, and violence. Her book, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), forges a theology of the Spirit through engagements with postmodern biblical hermeneutics, a theology of Holy Saturday, and contemporary trauma theory. Her current research explores the significance of resurrection wounds in the Christian tradition in connection to contemporary discourses about wounding, both in popular culture and in the study of trauma.Her teaching and research interests include: feminist theory and theology, postmodern theology, pneumatology, and trauma studies. Through a series of faculty grants funded by the Center for Practical Theology and the Lilly Endowment, she has developed and presented workshops that offer religious leaders critical tools for thinking theologically about trauma.

Erin Runions is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Pomona College. Erin explores the intersections of biblical interpretation and political philosophies. With special focus on the Hebrew Bible and its reception history, she attends to the influence of the Bible on multiple religious and secular political contexts. She demonstrates the cumulative effect of biblical reception on sexuality, governance, war, torture, racialization, biopolitics, and US imperialism. Her publications include, The Babylon Complex: Theopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty (Fordham University Press, 2014);How Hysterical: Identification and Resistance in the Bible and Film (Palgrave MacMillan, 2003); Changing Subjects: Gender, Nation, Future in Micah (Sheffield Academic Press, 2001); as well as articles in a range of edited collections and journals including, Journal of the American Academy of Religion; Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion; differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies; Postscripts: A Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds; GLQb: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies: Biblical Interpretation; The Bible and Critical Theory; and Semeia.

Student Presenters

Karen Bray, Drew Univeristy
“The Madness of Holy Saturday: Bipolar Temporality and the Queerdom of Heaven on Earth”
View Abstract

Christy Cobb, Drew University
“Reading Female Homoeroticism Across Time: Queer Performance in the Acts of Xanthippe and Nightwood”
View Abstract

Richard Coble, Vanderbilt University
“Memory, Futurity, and Biopolitics in Pastoral Care”
View Abstract

Brandy R. Daniels, Vanderbilt University
“Who’s the We? Excess and the Enactment of Queer Time”
View Abstract

James N. Hoke, Drew University
“The Empire Binds Time: Erotohistoriography and Romans 13″
View Abstract

Minenhle Nomalungelo Khumalo, Drew University
“The Non-Origins of Queer Blackness: Queering African(a) Temporalities”
View Abstract

Brock Perry, Drew University
“’They had no rest from this torment': Negativity and Temporality in Queer Biblical Criticism and Christian History”
View Abstract

Sara Rosenau, Drew University
“Amateur Christians, Queer Church”
View Abstract

Eric A. Thomas,Drew University
“The Futures Outside: Apocalyptic Epilogue as Queer Africana Prologue”
View Abstract

Max Thornton, Drew University
“TransCription: Gender, Disability, and Temporality”
View Abstract

Karen Bray, Drew Univeristy
“The Madness of Holy Saturday: Bipolar Temporality and the Queerdom of Heaven on Earth”
View Abstract

Christy Cobb, Drew University
“Reading Female Homoeroticism Across Time: Queer Performance in the Acts of Xanthippe and Nightwood”
View Abstract

Richard Coble, Vanderbilt University
“Memory, Futurity, and Biopolitics in Pastoral Care”
View Abstract

Brandy R. Daniels, Vanderbilt University
“Who’s the We? Excess and the Enactment of Queer Time”
View Abstract

James N. Hoke, Drew University
“The Empire Binds Time: Erotohistoriography and Romans 13″
View Abstract

Minenhle Nomalungelo Khumalo, Drew University
“The Non-Origins of Queer Blackness: Queering African(a) Temporalities”
View Abstract

Brock Perry, Drew University
“’They had no rest from this torment': Negativity and Temporality in Queer Biblical Criticism and Christian History”
View Abstract

Sara Rosenau, Drew University
“Amateur Christians, Queer Church”
View Abstract

Eric A. Thomas,Drew University
“The Futures Outside: Apocalyptic Epilogue as Queer Africana Prologue”
View Abstract

Max Thornton, Drew University
“TransCription: Gender, Disability, and Temporality”
View Abstract

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