illustriertes Postermotiv des Symposium "Writing and Theorizing the Queer Subject"

Symposium “Writing and Theorizing the Queer Subject”

On 19 April 2024, the symposium “Writing and Theorizing the Queer Subject” will showcase a variety of topics on and approaches to doing queer theory and reading literature queerly at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Using different formats, the presenters will reflect on the role of literature and art in the exploration of queer subjectivity and the construction of queer worlds and communities.

New ways of conceiving of queerness

Recognizing art, and literature in particular, as a discourse uniquely equipped to grapple with the complex relationship between desire and the political, queer theory shares a profound bond with literary studies. Not only do many canonical early works of queer theory from the end of the twentieth century emerge out of literary criticism, but a queer critique and theorizing of a kind has been present in queer literary writing and art for much longer. Reading British and American modernist writing, for example, feminist and queer literary criticism has demonstrated an affinity between modernist and queer aesthetics, which, in turn, has inspired a queer re-imagination of modernism in literary writing. The connection between theorization and literary exploration of queer subjectivity has thus been productive in both queer theory and literary criticism and has motivated new forms of conceiving of queerness and of formulating queer critique.

On the boundaries of subjectivity

At this symposium, we look at the processes of literary writing and theorizing of the queer subject, recognizing that it is specifically in the entanglements of text, storytelling, and subjectivity, that the potential for the non-normative, for the subversive, and the resistant, is embedded. Thinking of the relationship between theorizing and literature, we consider the limits of theorizing and the bounds and norms (re)produced by theoretical thinking, and ask what are the alternative possibilities offered by art? If queerness resides in and motivates the counter-hegemonic and non-normative, which creative capacities and imaginative strategies of literature are mobilized to engender it, and what forms of literary expression are produced in the process?

Looking at the questions of identity, embodiment, representation, and power, we reflect on the boundaries of subjectivity and ask how literature allows us to imagine a subjectivity unrestrained by the limits of the normative. Exploring the relationship between subjectivity and textuality, we look at how the subject is constructed through and in writing, and what the strategies of writing a queer subjectivity are.

Some of the more specific topics the papers will address are how gender and sexuality are represented and negotiated in literature and pop culture; how the framework of queer theory helps us think of genre, narrative, temporalities, and literary periodization; how the focus on gender and sexuality helps us understand intersections with race, class, and ability; is experimental literature necessarily queer, and vice versa, and finally, how theorizing, reading, writing, and thinking queer engenders new forms of relationalities and friendships in art, academia, and beyond.

We extend a warm invitation: Symposium on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Eveline Kilian

The symposium “Writing and Theorizing the Queer Subject” is organized as an occasion to celebrate the 65th birthday of Professor Eveline Kilian from the Department of English and American Studies, paying tribute to her legacy and expressing deep appreciation for her work. The theme of the symposium is inspired by her work in queer theory and especially by her interest in literary embodiments of queer theorizing and queer thinking. Colleagues from around the world will gather to acknowledge her academic accomplishments and contributions to the fields of queer, gender, and feminist theory, cultural studies, and literary criticism. The symposium’s broad international line-up highlights Eveline Kilian’s ongoing engagement for inter-university and international collaborations and networking, as well as her significant role in establishing queer theory and gender studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, bringing together colleagues at HU and internationally. Contributions to the programme, spanning scholarly papers to literary readings, underscore the profound impact of Eveline’s work on the intellectual pursuits of her students and peers and her influential mentorship of students, PhD candidates, and Postdocs.

We extend a warm invitation to join the Department of English and American Studies and the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies in honouring a career devoted to guiding students, fostering inclusivity, and expanding the boundaries of academic discourse on gender and sexuality.

19 April 2024
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6, Senatssaal

Find the full program and all further information on the symposium’s website
Registration: please register for the event here (before 8 April 2024)


Tijana Ristic Kern is a PhD student and a Research Associate at the Department of English and American Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, with an MA degree in English Literatures from HU Berlin and an MA degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Belgrade. Her research and teaching areas are modernism, postmodernism, life writing, hybrid writing, activist writing, queer and feminist theory, and archives. She is part of the Polish-German Weave LAP project Queer Theory in Transit: Reception, Translation, and Production of Queer Theory in Polish and German Contexts (QUEERIT), funded by DFG and NCN (2023-2026), as well as a member of an international research group on Queer Theory and Literary Studies, currently working on a co-edited volume on the intersections of queer and class in literature and theory due out with Routledge in 2024.

Elahe Haschemi Yekani is Professor of English and American Literature and Culture with a Focus on Postcolonial Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. She is the recipient of an ERC Consolidator Grant for the project “Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary. Aesthetics, Affects, Archives”, in which she investigates queer narratives of migration with a comparative focus on Germany, Britain, and the US in a new book project tentatively called Mini City. Her research interests include diasporic writing, postcolonial studies, visual culture, cultural memory and the archival turn, queer theory and intersectionality.

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