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Que(e)rying Theory #5: Leo Bersani’s “Is the Rectum a Grave?”

May 17, 2015 @ 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM



Que(e)rying Theory is a discussion group about queer theory and critical theory for thinkers from all contexts. Reading texts both vintage and new, we will ask questions such as: What is queerness? What do queer politics look like? How do we find the tools for living in a precarious world? And finally, what can theory mean in our own lives? In dialogue with one another, we will fearlessly relish in the complexities of theory, and collectively work towards richer understandings of our past, present, and future. Discussions will be moderated by Connor Spencer, and for a small donation, wine, beer, and sparkling water will be available to help lubricate our conversations.

Que(e)rying Theory #5 will address Leo Bersani‘s  1987 essay  “Is the Rectum a Grave?,” found in his book Is the Rectum a Grave? and Other Essays (U of Chicago, 2009).

Leo Bersani’s infamous essay “Is the Rectum a Grave?” not only launched a critical intervention into conversations about gay male sexuality at the height of the AIDS epidemic, but also inaugurated a long-standing debate in queer theory about relationality and the social order. We will be revisiting the essay in light of Bersani’s recently published reflection on the piece from After Sex? (Duke UP 2011), in which he recants and recalibrates some of his core arguments.
Both Leo Bersani’s Is the Rectum a Grave? and Other Essays and After Sex? On Writing Since Queer Theory, edited by Janet Halley and Andrew Parker, are available for purchase at the Bureau.
Please support the Bureau by purchasing your copy from the Bureau! Thank you!

PDFs of “Is the Rectum a Grave?” are available online, but please email the organizer if you need a copy of Bersani’s essay in After Sex?

connspencer [at] gmail [dot] com


Connor Spencer is a writer living in New York City. He studied English at New York University, where he conducted bi-coastal archival research on the artists David Wojnarowicz and Gary Fisher. In 2014, he was a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship. Connor tweets about leftism, queer politics, and dog costumes @conneriks.


Image: ACT UP (Gran Fury). Installation view: “Let the Record Show…” November 20 1987 – January 24 1988. Courtesy New Museum, New York. Photo: Fred Scrutin





May 17, 2015
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM


Bureau of General Services—Queer Division @ The Center
208 West 13th Street, Room 210
New York, NY 10011 United States
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646 457 0859


646 457 0859