Northwestern Events Calendar


Professor Bonnie Honig (Brown), "Truth Queens: The Biblical Esther from Eve Sedgwick to Ivanka Trump"

When: Tuesday, February 15, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Central

Where: Ription Rm (201)

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

Contact: Amanda Fu  

Group: Political Theory Colloquium

Co-Sponsor: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Political Theory Colloquium from noon-1:30pm CST, Feb 15 for Professor Bonnie Honig's presentation on her paper, "Truth Queens: The Biblical Esther from Eve Sedgwick to Ivanka Trump." 


Eve Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet analyzes the culture of the closet, which turns sex (plural practices, indefinite, diverse) into knowledge (precise and definitive) and then uses that knowledge to stigmatize those it minoritizes into carriers of a secret, sexual truth. “To crack a code and enjoy the reassuring exhilarations of knowingness is to buy into the specific formula “We Know What That Means,” says Sedgwick (204). The pleasure of such ostensible knowing is both in the knowing and in the ostension; it is the pleasure of epistemic superiority and secure reference. Claiming the gay closet is unique, Sedgwick contrasts it with the Biblical Book of Esther, in which a Queen of Persia comes out as Jewish to the king, hoping to win a reprieve for her people from extermination. Sedgwick is critical of Esther as a carrier of patriarchal norms, but not of her celebrated role as a queen who tells the truth at great risk. This paper engages critically with Sedgwick’s reading, highlighting her (re)production of Esther as a Truth Queen, and then noting that this earnest Esther has been embraced by Ivanka Trump as her avatar. In place of the Truth Queen, the paper proposes turning instead to “truth queens,” plural and campy, whose repertoire of truth-telling and refusal includes a host of bleak/comic efforts to interrupt the earnest carnival of American hetero-nationalism.

Bonnie Honig is Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media (MCM) and Political Science at Brown University, and (by courtesy) Religious Studies (RS) and Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS). She is author of Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell, 1993, Scripps Prize for best first book), Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton, 2001), Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton, 2009, David Easton Prize), Antigone, Interrupted. (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair (Fordham, 2017). She has edited or co-edited several collections, including Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt (Penn State, 1995) and Politics, Theory, and Film: Critical Encounters with Lars von Trier (Oxford, 2016).  Her articles have appeared in Arethusa (Okin-Young Prize for best article in feminist theory), New Literary History, Political Theory, theory&event, Social Text, differences, the American Political Science Review, and more.  

The meeting will be hosted in hybrid format. The in-person event will be held in Scott Hall 212. To join on Zoom, please register below.

Click here to obtain the manuscript of Professor Honig's paper. 

Register More Info Add to Calendar

Add Event To My Group:

Please sign-in