CFP for the themed issue of ‘Subjectivity’ on Radical Negativity

*CALL FOR PAPERS: Themed issue on ‘Radical negativity’*Over the past decade, feminist and queer scholarship has begun to productively address the dark aspects of human subjectivity, such as unhappiness, irresponsibility, passivity, vulnerability, failure, shame, hesitancy, pain, dispossession, disappointment, rage, madness and depression, contributing to a rethinking and revaluation of the negative.
Critique has focused on how normative subject positions are powerful mechanisms that reproduce dominant power structures such as whiteness, patriarchy, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, and ableism. Such normative subject positions can demand or assume whiteness and thus position those who are non-white as ‘invaders’ in the space of the institution (Puwar 2009), present gender subservience as happiness (Ahmed 2010), and demand compulsory heterosexuality (Rich 1980). Resisting these (normative) demands placed on identities can form subjectivities perceived to be oriented around discomfort, refusal and pain

Borrowing from Eve Sedgwick, this special issue proposes that forms of the negative are “not distinctly ‘toxic’ parts of a group or individual identity that can be excised; they are instead integral to and residual in the processes by which identity itself is formed (2003, p.63).” In choosing to conceptualise subjectivity through the possibility of treating the negative as a viable and integral resource for resistance and a locus of social change, this issue will pay particular attention to the relation of negativity to resistant political practices. More specifically, we are interested in how the formation of subjectivities based on negative states and in relation to negative affects can be productive sites for political engagement. What is opened up or made possible by attending to the negative as an interruption to the force of restrictive social norms upon certain psyche and bodies?

We welcome papers based in any discipline that significantly engage feminist and queer theory to respond to one or more of the following questions:

  1. How can the negative be conceptualised as an interruption to the force of restrictive social norms?

  2. How might rejecting the social compulsion toward positive affect allow for, and even become necessary to, resisting normative structures of power?

  3. If we accept that power can differentially produce subjects, and that there is a relationship between power and resistance, how do these differences in turn utilise the negative, and what is the negative’s role in the capacity to resist?

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, explorations of:

  – the construction of normative subjectivities and their effects on those deemed not to ‘fit’

  – the construction of subjectivities in relation to narratives of trauma  or shame

  – queer subversion in the face of ambivalence, incoherence and difficulty

  – the relation between politics and the construction of ‘woundedness’

  – the distribution (and understanding) of vulnerability

  – the construction of health, happiness or ‘goodness’

  – the racialization of affect

  – the gendering of affect

  – the navigation/rejection of gender norms and cis-sexism

  – the ways in which gender, sexuality, race and ability inflect the  interpretation of affect more generally

  – deviance

  – name-calling

Issue editors: Ella Fegitz, Tiffany Page and Leila Whitley.

The deadline for first drafts of papers is 1 May 2016. Papers should be submitted in the first instance to and should follow submission guidelines for Subjectivity (

The editors are happy to discuss possible papers informally with potential contributors. Please contact:;;


Ahmed, Sara. 2010. *The Promise of Happiness.* Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Puwar, Nirmal. 2004. *Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place. *Oxford: Berg.

Rich, Adrienne. 1980. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” *Journalof Women in Culture **and Society, *5, 4, 631-660.

Sedgwick, Eve. 2003. *Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity*.

Durham and London: Duke University Press.