On my way back home on Friday night, I wondered how one could not believe in magic who had shared the experience of that day and that night? I forget who it was at the “Honoring Eve” conference at Boston University who reminded that audience of this splendid quote from A Dialogue on Love:
I want to know, “Don’t you ever find yourself suspicious when I’m so sanguine about these intimate relationships–Hal, Michael, friends, students? Don’t you wonder, can that much good relating really happen? And where are all the conflicts?”
With some thought, he says, “For a long time I was aware of staying agnostic about it. Not suspicious, but close to that. But over time, I guess I’ve figured that if you’ve been systematically misperceiving all these relationships–well, it is systematic; it seems to work in a consistent way for you. [...] Are you asking this because you want to flash me a yellow light?”
“No, no, I don’t think so. But I sometimes wonderwhether you think I
friends. Kind of wholesale.”
“I think about it, sure. Last week Mary described me to myself as ‘scattering sequins over us all’–all the people I love. She’s right, she and they do seem so glamorous and numinous to me. I always see the light shaking out of their wings.” (107-108)
It was with defeat in my heart that—at 9 in the morning—I told Tracy that I was going to take a little nap to sleep through my despair. We’d spent the past two-and-a-half hours on the phone and computer disseminating the bad news he had woken me up with at 6:30 that morning: the Graduate Center had closed their building due to the inclement weather. After nine months of work, this turn of events seemed a bizarre bad dream.
I awoke to another phone call. It was Tracy again, but this time I heard him smiling as he told me that we were going to be able to meet in the closed building after all. I jumped quickly into the shower only to realize moments later that I had showered the night before. Without being able to check my messages due to an internet outage, I threw on some weather combat clothes and my favorite skirt and flew out the door and into the flurry, running to catch the 4 train as it thundered into the station.
Almost as suddenly, I was in Manhattan, making my way down 34th Street where one business owner was building an army of small snowmen while other proprietors shoveled snow drifts. I trudged into the building and burst into action, taping signs along the semi-darkened corridors and giving instructions to the security downstairs. People began to slowly filter into the English department, and—despite the snow—around fifty people made it in and were privileged to hear wonderful speakers throughout the afternoon. I’ve assembled our snow day schedule; click “read more” below to view it. This post will be followed up by a review of the conference by Mia Chen, who presented a paper entitled “Rooms [sic].”
Dear Long-suffering Sedgwickians:
We will meet at The Graduate Center TODAY (Friday) AT 1 P.M and hear papers from those who are able to attend. This will occur in an informal, plenary session. I understand that some of us may not quite be there by one. Please arrive when and if you safely can.
IMPORTANT: Please bring picture ID.
IMPORTANT: Tell Security you are attending the English Student Association Conference (they will know nothing about spanking, poetry, or Sedgwick).
IMPORTANT: If you have difficulty, please call Margaret Galvan or Tracy Riley.
I know this is not ideal, but let’s get together, drink the wine, and hear the great papers that people have brought.
(p.s. – This is now a final decision; we can’t fix things with security for a different time)
Jonathan Goldberg is Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor at Emory University. He previously taught at The Johns Hopkins University where he was Sir William Osler Professor of English Literature; he was a colleague of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick when he taught at Duke University. Inspiring teachers at Columbia, where he received his A.B. magna (1964), his M.A. (1965) and Ph.D. (1968), led him to English Renaissance literature, the focus of many of the ten books he has published. The work of Eve Sedgwick, to whom he dedicated Sodometries (1992), shifted his attention to embrace questions of sexuality; it was Sedgwick who gave him permission to write Willa Cather and Others (2001). His most recent book is The Seeds of Things (2009) which he believes echoes some of the concerns found in Sedgwick’s most recent writing.
Michael Moon was Eve Sedgwick’s colleague at Duke where they co-taught early courses in Queer Theory and collaborated on talks and articles about such figures as Divine and John Waters and Walt Whitman and his mother Louisa. They continued to enjoy less formal collaborations of many kinds during the years they taught at different universities. Moon has recently finished work on a book entitled Darger’s Resources on the so-called outsider artist Henry Darger. His previous books include Disseminating Whitman and A Small Boy and Others. He edited the second edition of the Norton Critical Edition of Leaves of Grass.
Amanda Berry studied at Duke University under the queer guidance of Eve K. Sedgwick in the early 1990’s. There she obtained her Master’s and PhD in English. Her work focuses on 19th Century British literature, especially Romantic literature and questions of public pleasure and sexuality. Amanda currently teaches in the Literature Program at American University in Washington, DC. Her more recent interests are the Sister Arts including comic books and she is at work on a project about masculinity and comics provisionally entitled No Man on Earth.
Katy Hawkins lives in Philadelphia where she studies (and teaches) mind/body relations, including Zazen and Samatha/Vipassana meditation, Sanskrit and Vedic chanting, and the eight limbs of Raja Yoga as defined by Patanjali. She is currently working on a book on Eve’s art and its relation to Eastern spiritual frameworks. Since completing her Ph.D in Comp Lit from NYU, her cross-disciplinary work (culled from dance, film, poetry, and theory) has appeared in Women and Performance, Criticism, and The Painted Bride Quarterly, and has been presented at venues such as Cornelia Street Café (NYC), Connelly Theater (NYC), and The Ear Inn (NYC), not to mention the esteemed archives of YouTube.
Gregory John Mercurio studied with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he earned his M.Phil in English literature and is currently completing the Ph.D dissertation he began under Eve’s supervision. His academic interests range from Proust and queer modernism to queer uses of Darwinian and post-Darwinian evolutionary thought. He is currently writing about Proust’s use of Ovidian metamorphosis in an evolutionary context. He has also been an artist and set designer Off-Broadway for the last 25 years, and was a resident scenic artist at Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. He is the academic director of the Honors College at Adelphi University.
Jason Nielsen is in his fourth year in the English program at The Graduate Center. He is in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate program at the GC, has previously taught courses in Digital Writing at Queens College, and will be teaching a class titled “The Digital Revolution.” Previous courses taught include American Studies and Representations of the Holocaust in literature and film. He is co-chair of the 20th-Century Studies Area Group and interests include American literature, memoir, affect, psychoanalysis, and digital culture. He is also working on archival materials of poet John Wieners for the CUNY Lost and Found Poetics project.
Artists: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Hal Sedgwick, Balaku Basu, Nirit Ben-Arit, Adam Brodsky, Blake Bronson-Bartlett & Melanie Noel, Matthew Burgess, Anna Siobhand Clements, Rosalyn Cowart & Andrew Temples, Annie Cranstoun, Nicole Lyn De Blosi, Allen Durgin, Claudia Gonson, John Harkey, Scott Henkle, Lisa Ilan & Laura Holder, Sarah Ruth Jacobs, Karinne Keithley, Karin Kohlmeier, Carole Kulikowski, Emily Lauer, Chris Leary, Douglas Martin, Gregory Mercurio, Tina Meyerhoff, Keiko Miyajima, Michael McCanne, Emily Moore, Jason Nielsen, Dwandwan Ou-Yang, Donna Paparella, Daniel Portland, Rebekah Rutkoff, Alisha Richards, Chris Schmidt, Jason Schneiderman, Emily Sherwood, Lisa Tagliaferri, Andrew Temples, Eve Tuck, Yuki Watanabe, Courtney Lee Weida, Jaime Chris Weida, Jen Weiss, Jennifer Rose Weiss, Ronaldo Wilson, Martin Zeilinger, Dominique Zino