Commemorating Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950-2009), intensive, one-day seminar at Independent Colleges, 7.11.2009, Dublin

The(e)ories: Critical Theory & Sexuality Studies Presents
Commemorating Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950-2009)
Saturday 7 November 2009
IndependentColleges, Dublin, Ireland

This event is sponsored by The(e)ories: Critical Theory & Sexuality Studies, in collaboration with the School of Psychotherapy at Independent Colleges, Dublin.
IndependentColleges, 60-63 Dawson Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. See under ‘About Us’ for a map.
The ideal I’m envisioning here is a mind receptive to thoughts, able to nurture and connect them, and susceptible to happiness in their entertainment (Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity [Durham and London: Duke University Press 2003], 1).
The death of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick in May 2009 left many of us who work in queer, gender, and sexuality studies, feeling an aching sense of loss. In a career spanning over three decades Sedgwick, a literary critic, essayist, artist, poet, produced highly influential and paradigm-shifting texts including Between Men, Epistemology of the Closet, Tendencies, Touching Feeling and A Dialogue on Love and has left us a remarkable legacy, a vast corpus to begin reading again and
again. This one-day seminar is an occasion dedicated to remembering, to commemorating together, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and it is organised around moments of reading. Participants will be given the opportunity to read with and around and after Sedgwick, and to personally reflect on those productive times of encounter—moments of surprise, delight, wonder, irritation, miscomprehension, rapture, annoyance—with her voluminous writings. Commemorating Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick affords those who have lost Sedgwick—as a personal and/or theoretical friend—space and time to begin working through the process of mourning for her and to seize the urgent chance of re-reading her and assessing her continued importance to the fields—feminism, queer theory, literary criticism among others—which she helped to, and will continue to, foster and sustain.
9.45-10.00 Welcome and Introductions: Noreen Giffney (The(e)ories Organiser & University of Limerick) andMichael O’Rourke (The(e)ories Organiser)
10.00-12.00 Session One: Remembering Eve in the Bardo This opening session foregrounds questions of loss, mourning, death, autobiography and illness, as we begin to grapple with Sedgwick’s life and work. We will especially be thinking and talking about her turn to Buddhism and how that animates her later work, both her writing and her art. There will be two trigger papers—an article by Noreen Giffney and Michael O’Rourke on reading Sedgwick retrospectively and a late (possibly the last) interview with Sedgwick conducted by Michael Snediker. These papers will open up some key questions, largely clustered around the importance of the ‘I’ in Sedgwick, and encourage participants to discuss their own personal investment in Eve’s work. There will be two short (10-minute) responses to the trigger papers, from Michael O’Rourke and Jason Edwards, author of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (Routledge 2008), the only single-authored book-length study of Sedgwick.
Respondents:Jason Edwards (University of York) and Michael O’Rourke (The(e)ories Organiser)
Trigger Papers:
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick interviewed by Michael D. Snediker, ‘Queer Little Gods: A Conversation’, The Massachussets Review 49.1/2 (2008): 194-218.
Noreen Giffney and Michael O’Rourke, ‘The E(ve) in The(e)ories: Dreamreading Sedgwick in Retrospective Time’, Irish Feminist Review 3 (2007): 6-21.
12.00-13.00 Lunch
13.00-15.00 Session Two: Provocations to Reading: Eve This session provides an occasion to discuss some of Sedgwick’s more provocative texts and the ethical and political implications of her passionate advocacy for close, attentive and vigilant reading. While her work has challenged us to read a wide sweep of texts and forms, this session will work in the folds of two contentious essays, one on Jane Austen and female same/sex eroticism, the other on Henry James and anal eroticism. While both of these essays have been subjected to forceful critique and accusations of loose reading, the discussion here will assess, with patience and care, the imagination, intelligence and insight of Sedgwick’s writing and the ethical, historical and political dimensions of her work generally. The respondents will be Denis Flannery, a Jamesian, and Eamonn Dunne, a specialist in the work of J. Hillis Miller, both of whom read in a Sedgwickean mode: responsibly, provocatively, generously and thoughtfully. The wider discussion will emphasise the possibilities for reading with and after, in the wake, of Sedgwick.
Respondents: Denis Flannery(University of Leeds) and Eamonn Dunne
(Independent Scholar)
Trigger Papers:
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, ‘Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl’, Tendencies (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993), 109-29.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, ‘Is The Rectum Straight? Identification and Identity in The Wings of the Dove’, Tendencies (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993), 73-103.
15.00-15.30 Tea & Coffee Break
15.30-17.30 Session Three: Queer Affects The final session will focus on affect, perhaps the single most important concept in Sedgwick’s oeuvre. From A Dialogue on Love to her collection of the writings of Silvan Tomkins to Touching Feeling and her last essays on Marcel Proust, Sedgwick has—in her reading and in her writing—searched endlessly for a discourse through which to explore, touch and feel. And her readers have been and continue to be profoundly affected by her reading and writing, by her teaching. This session provides a space in which to talk about affect in Sedgwick and
the many ways in which Sedgwick’s work has affected us by paying attention to her recent essay on the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein alongside an article by Klein herself. The respondents will be Noreen Giffney and Eve Watson, who in different ways stage important encounters between psychoanalysis and queer theory. The discussion will give participants a chance to braid together many of the concepts and themes traversed during the day.
Respondents:Noreen Giffney (The(e)ories Organiser & University of
Limerick) and Eve Watson (Psychoanalyst & Independent Colleges, Dublin)
Trigger Papers:
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, ‘Melanie Klein and the Difference Affect Makes’, South Atlantic Quarterly 106.3 (2007): 625-42.
Melanie Klein, ‘Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms’, Envy and Gratitude and Other Works 1946-1963 (London: Vintage, 1997/1946), 1-24.
17.30 Thanks and Close of Seminar
Eamonn Dunnerecently completed a PhD thesis at University College Dublin. Hisdoctoral thesis, Acts of Reading: J. Hillis Miller, is a sustained investigation of twentieth-century literary criticism and reading strategies alongside close readings of Miller’s works. He is currently revising his thesis as a book-length study. His thinking in this area has also led him to J.L. Austin, speech act theory and perverformativity. In 2007 he published an essay in Textual Practice on Heinrich von Kleist and a book chapter on the work of Paul Auster. He also has essays on contemporary Northern Irish fiction and
nineteenth-century Irish fiction under review. His research interests are in the area of deconstructive literary criticism and theory, especially as they pertain to the works of J. Hillis Miller.
Jason Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in art history, director of the British Art research school and a member of the Sculpture studies and Architectural History and Theory research schools at the University of York. He is on the editorial board of Visual Culture in Britain, and works primarily on British Art 1848-1940 and queer theory. He is the author of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (Routledge 2008) and Alfred Gilbert’s Aestheticism: Gilbert Amongst Whistler, Wilde, Leighton, Pater, and Burne-Jones. (Ashgate 2006), and is the editor of ‘Anxious Flirtations: Homoeroticism, Art and Aestheticism in Victorian Britain’, a special issue of the journal, Visual Culture in Britain 8.1 (Spring 2007) and (with Stephanie L. Taylor) Joseph Cornell: Opening the Box (Peter Lang 2007).He is currently at work on a new exhibition: ‘Victorian Sculptural Encounters’ for the Yale Center for British Art (Spring 2013), which he is co-curating with Michael Hatt.
Jason and Michael are currently co-editing ‘Victorial Sculpture in its Global Contexts’, a special issue of Visual Culture in Britain (2010).
Denis Flanneryis Senior Lecturer in American Literature in the Department of English at the University of Leeds. He is the author of On Sibling Love, Queer Attachment and American Writing(Ashgate 2007) and Henry James: A Certain Illusion (Ashgate 2000). His teaching and research interests include various areas of literature, cinema, drama and theory, namely American literature and cinema (especially the work of David Fincher and Derek Jarman), Victorian literature,
twentieth-century and contemporary literature and eighteenth-century literature, Henry James, legal-literary relations, gender studies and queer theory. He is currently working on two projects both inspired in part by Sedgwick’s work: first, a collaborative memoir written with his father and a new book on Henry James’s relationship to Ireland.
Noreen Giffneyis Junior Lecturer in Women’s Studies, Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick and is in clinical training in the object relations tradition of psychoanalysis at Trinity College Dublin. She is the author of Queer Theory [The Key Concepts] (Berg 2010) and the co-editor of Twenty-First Century Lesbian Studies (Taylor and Francis 2007), Queering the Non/Human [Queer Interventions] (Ashgate 2008), The Ashgate Research Companion to Queer
Theory (Ashgate 2009), The Lesbian Premodern [The New Middle Ages] (Palgrave Macmillan 2010) and Theory on the Edge: Irish Studies and the Politics of Sexual Difference (Essays in Honour of Ailbhe Smyth) (The Woodfield Press 2010). She is currently working on a book with Eve Watson entitled Clinical Encounters: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory.
Michael O’Rourkeis the co-editor of Love, Sex, Intimacy and Friendship between Men, 1550-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan 2003); Queer Masculinities, 1550-1800: Siting Same-Sex Desire in the Early Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan 2006); The Ashgate Research Companion to Queer Theory (Ashgate 2009); and special issues of the journals, Romanticism on the Net (Queer Romanticism) and Borderlands (Jacques Rancière on the Shores of Queer Theory); and the editor of Derrida and Queer Theory (forthcoming Palgrave Macmillan); and special issues of the journals, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge (The Becoming-Deleuzoguattarian of Queer Studies) and Medieval Feminist Review (Queer Methodologies and/or Queers in Medieval Studies). He is (with Noreen Giffney) the series co-editor of two queer theory book series: Queer Interventions at Ashgate and Cultural Connections: Key Thinkers and Queer Theory at the University of Wales Press.
Eve Watsonis a Lacanian psychoanalyst working in private practice in Dublin. She is Head of Psychoanalysis at the recently established Independent Colleges, Dublin where she also lectures in psychoanalysis. She has published several articles in The Letter ( including: ‘Why not war? Dialectics of the will to aggression in the recent “U.S.”—led war on Iraq?’ (Autumn 2003), ‘“An-Other” jouissance: Unmasking the “vamp-ire” and Marilyn Monroe’ Spring, 2005) and book chapters including ‘The elusive lesbian of psychoanalysis — Subjective affects of a writing-in and
exclusion’ in Tribades, Tommies and Transgressives (Cambridge Scholars Press 2008) and ‘Love denied and being decried — Revisiting Freud’s case of the female homosexual’ to be published by the Ecole de Psychoanalyse des Forums du Champ Lacanian in June 2009. She is working on a book with Noreen Giffney entitled Clinical Encounters: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory. She is currently completing a PhD in the area of lesbianism and psychoanalysis at University College Dublin.


Participation in this event costs €10. For further information and to register, contact Noreen Giffney ( or Michael O’Rourke ( Check for updates. Early registration is advised as places at the seminar are limited.


This event is sponsored by The(e)ories: Critical Theory & Sexuality Studies, in collaboration with the School of Psychotherapy at Independent Colleges, Dublin. We are grateful to Eve Watson, Head of Psychoanalysis, for her generous support of this event.
For further details about The(e)ories: Critical Theory & Sexuality Studies, visit:
For further details about the School of Psychotherapy at Independent Colleges, Dublin, Ireland, visit:

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