The Disenchanted: Queer Theory Between Negativity and Flourishing


Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 5:00pm to 6:30pm


Fong Auditorium, Boylston Hall

Poster for Mari Ruti Lecture Event

To say that queer theory is disenchanted—written by and for those who are disillusioned with the status quo of our neoliberal society—is an understatement. During the last decade, queer theory has staged fierce critiques of our culture's emphasis on good performance, achievement, self-improvement, and positive thinking, with the result that it often finds itself at odds with the more affirmative tone of mainstream LGBTQ activists agitating for social inclusion (e.g. gay marriage and cultural recognition). In The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory's Defiant Subjects (Columbia UP, 2017), Mari Ruti argues that discourses of queer negativity—including its endorsement of bad feelings such as depression, resignation, and apathy—rewrite ethical theory and practice in innovative ways at the same time as she resists the impulse to turn antinormativity into a new norm.

In this presentation, Ruti provides an overview of some of the main debates within queer theory, focusing on recent arguments, particularly ones by queer critics of color, that push queer nega­tivity to its limits. Yet she also looks for the kernel of enchant­ment—of hope, utopianism, persistence, and even flourishing—that sometimes resides within (or beyond) queer celebrations of disenchantment.

Tuesday, March 21, 5:00-6:30PM
Fong Auditorium, Boylston Hall
Free and open to the public.

Mari Ruti is Distinguished Professor of Critical Theory and of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Toronto. She is the author of ten books in the fields of critical theory, psychoanalysis, and feminist and queer theory. In 2016-2017, Ruti is Visiting Professor at Harvard Program for Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. You can read more about her at

Co-sponsored by: Dudley House; Office of BGLTQ Student Life; Office of the Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity and Equity; Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; Department of Comparative Literature; Department of English; Department of Romance Languages & Literatures; Department of Sociology