Queer Extinctions; or, Learning How to Last

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@ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

A diptych of a fossil on the lower level, juxtaposed with an image of Vanport Extension Center (the first incarnation of Portland State University) in the wake of a 1948 flood.
Image courtesy of Sarah Ensor.

Sarah Ensor

Resident Fellow (2023-2024)

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Oklahoma State University

Queer Lasting: Ecologies of Care at Future’s End

This talk draws from the book manuscript that I am completing, Queer Lasting: Ecologies of Care at Future’s End. There, I ask what contemporary environmental thought’s seemingly necessary emphasis on the future has rendered unthinkable, and look to the literatures from two periods of queer extinction (the 1890s and the 1980s) for alternate grammars of continuance and care. In my seminar presentation, I will discuss how the book’s argument relates to a more transdisciplinary phenomenon: the many speculative “futures” that proliferate across liberatory humanistic criticism today. In the process, I will also consider how the material conditions in which we do our work – and, more specifically, the varied institutional settings in which I produced this manuscript – affect the temporal shape of our imaginaries.

Sarah Ensor is an Assistant Professor of English at UW–Madison, where she is also a faculty associate in the Nelson Institute’s Center for History, Culture, and Environment. Her work engages the intersections between queer and environmental thought in American literature from the nineteenth century through the present. Her first book, Queer Lasting: Ecologies of Care at Future’s End, is under contract with the Sexual Cultures series at NYU Press. With Susan Scott Parrish, she co-edited The Cambridge Companion to American Literature and the Environment, which was published in 2022. Before arriving in Madison, she was an Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University and the University of Michigan.

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