Northwestern Events Calendar


“The Lunar Effect: Self-Loss and Cosmic Consciousness in the Mad-Queer 1970s” -- Abram J. Lewis (SPAN Postdoc Talk)

When: Tuesday, March 6, 2018
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM Central

Where: Crowe Hall, 1-132, 1860 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Eliot Colin   (847) 467-4957

Group: The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


For historians of sexuality, the post-Stonewall period has long been regarded as a time when gay identity was in formation. In particular, the 1973 campaign to reform the DSM has been hailed as a watershed political victory, wherein activists cast off their pathologization as “disordered,” and affirmed homosexuality a social minority subject position. But although reformers sought to legitimize homosexuality by disaggregating it from madness, many 1970s radicals emphasized the affinities of madness and deviant sexuality—as forces that could usefully erode normative social and psychic organization. In this talk, I look to the cross-pollinations of movements for gay and insane liberation. For queer and mad radicals alike, what made psychosis and deviant sexuality valuable were their deterritorializing properties – their ability to dissolve the integrity of the self, and to make the subject vulnerable to the transformative forces of the objective world. Beyond illuminating new genealogies of queer and disability coalition, I argue that the 1970s mad-queer milieu pressures scholars to reconsider the primacy of subject-based frames for engaging postwar radicalism.

Abram J. (AJ) Lewis is a SPAN postdoctoral fellow, affiliated with the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and History Department. AJ’s first book project, The Falling Dream: Unreason and Enchantment in the Gay Liberation Movement examines queer and feminist uses of madness and magic as resources for political thought, action, and change at the end of the social movement era. His writing has appeared in Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, The Journal of the History of Sexuality, Radical History Review, The Scholar & Feminist Online, and Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (MIT Press, 2017). AJ is also a founder of the NYC Trans Oral History Project, which received the 2018 Allan Bérubé Prize in public history from the American Historical Association. AJ holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota.

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