- the Watershed collective
Whether you have revisions, resolutions, or revolutions in mind at the beginning of 2016, the Watershed collective offers some reading suggestions.
Theory texts we read last year and recommend:
Postcomposition by Sidney I. Dobrin (2011). This provocative text argues that the field of composition needs to undertake a fundamental shift away from its current interests in pedagogy, college writing, and administrative work, and instead move toward writing itself as the predominant site of theoretical inquiry. I don't necessary agree with Dobrin's stance, but it has stirred up some really interesting conversations about where writing studies is headed in the twenty-first century.
– Katie McWain
No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive by Lee Edelman (2004). Combining Lacan's Le Sinthome and the term "homosexual," Lee Edelman posits the "sinthomosexual" as the queer embodiment of the Freudian death drive before identifying representations of this character in film and literature. – Robert Lipscomb
Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators from the Bottom of the Web by Joseph M. Reagle, Jr. (2015). An enjoyable and often funny examination of how various spaces of online commenting--from YouTube comments to Amazon reviews to fanfiction feedback--have changed how we read, shop, interact, and "know," both online and offline. – Zach Beare
“An Indigenous Feminist’s Take on the Ontological Turn” by Zoe Todd (2014). A Métis
anthropologist blogs about decolonizing the academy and provides what she calls a “‘cite this, not that’ cheat-sheet for people who feel dissatisfied with the current euro (and white, and quite often, male) centric discourse taking place in our disciplines, departments, conferences and journals.” – Aubrey Streit Krug
Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy by Michael Hardt (1993). A game changer for readers seriously interested in Deleuze, Hardt's text walks you through the evolution of Deleuzean thought through his philosophical influences. It may feel a little wrong to seek rational, coherent explanations of meaning from a theorist whose work seems to encourage a sort of "incoherence" that goes beyond that, but this will make you appreciate that "incoherence" even more. – Anne Nagel
Difference and Repetition by Gilles Deleuze (1968, trans. 1994). If you enjoyed Anti-Oedipus or A Thousand Plateaus, this book will enrich your understanding of Deleuzean thought and possibly blow your mind. Be ready for a challenge, though--it's not for the faint of heart. – Anne Nagel
The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973 by Mark Greif (2015). This insightful intellectual history gives an overview of the discourse of "man" that dominated mid-twentieth-century thinking. Reading both theory texts and literature, Greif argues that this era needed the "empty concept" of man to wrestle with the problems of particular and universal in a plural society. – Daniel Clausen
Also, David Harvey's chapter-by-chapter podcast lectures on Marx's Capital. – Daniel Clausen
Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men by Jane Ward (2015). A fascinating examination of the role that male-male sexual contact plays in the shaping and reinforcement of white heterosexuality and heteronormativity. – Zach Beare
Theory texts we’re looking forward to reading this year:
Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital by Jason W. Moore (2015). Blurbs by Naomi Klein, Donna Haraway, Raj Patel, and China Miéville have caught my attention.
– Aubrey Streit Krug
Foucault beyond Foucault: Power and Its Intensifications Since 1984 by Jeffrey Nealon (2007). Foucauldian notions of power have served as a lens for almost everything I study and read lately, so I'm excited to tackle this text. It offers a revisionist reading of Foucault's mid- and late-career conceptualizations of political power, as well as an exploration of how iterations of power have shifted and developed since his death in 1984. – Katie McWain
Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self by Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander (2015). (Here’s the book trailer and the “book” itself.) I am perhaps most interested in how the multimodal structure of the text encourages readers to question the possibilities for a book-length project. I also think that this text has exciting potential for thinking about how digital composition and digital representation of the material world are increasingly central to both online and offline identity. I think this text is also valuable for remembering the ways digital spaces have long been locations for the writing, performing, imaginging, and reading of queer identities. – Zach Beare
The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life by Giorgio Agamben (2013). Because I've always had a monastic tendency myself. – Daniel Clausen
Talking Heads: Language, Metalanguage, and the Semiotics of Subjectivity by Benjamin Lee (1997). I am interested in the book's multidisciplinary perspective and the way the book is interrogating language and subjectivity in relation to public and political spheres. – Zach Beare
Plant Theory: Biopower and Vegetable Life by Jeffrey T. Nealon (2015). The Watershed collective in general likes to keep up with Nealon’s writing, but I’m unsurprisingly, especially interested in his latest book because it promises to inform my dissertation-in-progress about plants and literature. – Aubrey Streit Krug
Spinoza: Practical Philosophy by Gilles Deleuze (1970, trans. 1988). I've been meaning to read this for a while... Because who doesn't want to increase their joy and power to act? – Anne Nagel
Undoing Monogamy: The Politics of Science and the Possibilities of Biology by Angela Willey (2016). For a long time, I have been fascinated by what I sometimes call the "heteronormative impulse" of mainstream gay and lesbian politics. Especially following marriage equality in the United States, I think that it is important for queer theory to question the history of marriage and monogamy. I am hoping this book will contribute to the thinking I have been doing about these issues. – Zach Beare
What theory texts were "watershed events" for you in 2015? What are you planning to read or re-read this year? Share your recommendations in the comments.
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