Monday, April 20, 2009

Further Regarding Sedgwick

Sorry for the light posting, kids. We are in rest and catch up mode, following the hugely successful Homopalooza held over at Queer the Turtle U this past weekend. The papers were top-notch, the discussions lively, the weather glorious, and the artichoke dip sublime. Both moms felt it was poignant and powerful to be gathered with a group of queer studies scholars just a few days after the death of one of the field's founding figures, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. For some in attendance, Sedgwick's passing was a devastating and deeply personal loss. For others, it was less personal but nonetheless profound. In some ways, the conference felt like the first tentative steps, on a local level, toward the fulfillment of a wish Sedgwick herself expressed in 1993, apropos of her use of the first-person singular:
"I have an intense wish to be assured that the people and communities I'm leaving behind can take care of themselves -- that they don't need 'me,' my thought, my labor of regenerating a first person to keep them going."

(Photo Credit: Carrie Boretz, New York Times)

Meanwhile, the tributes and stock-takings continue to roll in.
  • The best thing we've seen so far is this marvelous piece by NYU's Ann Pellegrini, just published in The Chronicle of Higher Ed (subscription-access only, sorry). Pellegrini does a beautiful job of capturing what she describes as Sedgwick's "luminous, path-clearing, and sometimes wickedly playful role in the imagination and formation of lesbian and gay studies."
  • Our buddy Katherine Franke was in Marrakech when Sedgwick died and muses eloquently, on Columbia's Gender and Sexuality Law blog, on how Sedgwick's relentless problematizations of the homo-hetero binary help to explain the lavish public displays of homosociality she observed in North Africa.
  • Here's an interesting bit by David Shankbone, the photographer who took the Wikipedia photo of Sedgwick that we and a lot of other folks have used in writings since her death. Of the shot of a relaxed, grinning Sedgwick, with a photo of the Dalai Lama over her shoulder, Shankbone remarks: "I took perhaps 30 portrait shots of Sedgwick, but the one [that has been so widely circulated] I felt best captured her essence. She was concerned that photographs of her tended to be in the extremes: a deathly serious face, or she was uproariously laughing. She wanted something to capture several aspects of her spirit, and the smirk you see [in that photo] I think did it." We agree, except that we'd call it a grin rather than a smirk. George Bush smirked. Eve Sedgwick emphatically did not.
  • Oh, and NYT did better in its second attempt at explaining the Cosmic Cultural Significance of Sedgwick than it did in its obituary. Read this, and see if you agree.
  • Tenured Radical has a thing or two to say about Sedgwick's importance to historians in a piece that linked back to Roxie's World. Many thanks, TR -- A few more shout-outs, and we may forgive your inexplicable devotion to a breed other than the Wire Fox Terrier.
That's all for now, kids. My typist has to get ready to teach tomorrow. (Insert eye-rolling icon here.) Peace out.


  1. Excellent point about smirk/grin, so I changed the post and gave you the credit.

  2. Paws up to you, David. We think your portrait of Sedgwick is far and away the best we've seen. Thanks for sharing it, too.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.