. . . . . . . Supervalent Thought


Feminism and the Institutions of Intimacy

Yesterday Corey Robin wrote a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education called “The Erotic Professor,” and in it he positively mentions a piece of mine called “Feminism and the Institutions of Intimacy.” Quite a few people have written me to find it:  here it is.  I don’t especially think that Corey, whom I respect deeply, has fully captured the problem of clarifying what it means to be professionally responsible in the scene of attachment that can grow from close collaboration between people working together in institutions, especially when the attachments grow from projects of knowledge where talking things through might change not just ideas, but forms of life.  I could go on about this–but I basically agree with his critique of the self-regard blazoned by people who think their own responses and attachments to students are and should be indexical for all transferential relations.  What strikes me is both that attachment styles vary a lot (some students want to be known as biographical persons; some want close intellectual work not to include information about their lifeworld; some want intellectual work to be less close and more casual, and so on.). But the ambition to have a personally saturating mutual intimacy between feminist/queer students and teachers is what my 1997 article argues against, anyway, as it considers how the couple form model of teacher-student relation reproduces inequality under current conditions of precarity.

I would write about the institutional and economic contingencies of the historical present differently now.  For another time.  Meanwhile, the two pdfs below are from xeroxes made 21 years apart, which I find funny.

Berlant feminism institutions intimacy

Berlant new xerox of feminism and the institutions of intimacy