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Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature Presents

Cruising Foucault

3/3/17, 5:45 PM

About this event

Please join us for a talk by Samuel Galloway, PhD Student at University of Chicago. ​The talk will be followed by a screening of William Friedkin's Cruising​.

Abstract: This paper critically engages a cluster of interviews conducted with Michel Foucault in the early 1980’s that are distinguished for appearing in “gay” publications, addressing “gay” matters. I focus on one interview especially, which brought Foucault into dialogue with queer activist and writer for Body Politic, Alexander Wilson, around William Friedkin’s contentious film, Cruising (1980). Cruising starred Al Pacino as an undercover NYPD officer dispatched as bait to lure (out) a serial killer targeting men in the gay leather s/m scene. Though neither the film nor the divisive protests against it are mentioned explicitly, the substance of the interview centers on the value of s/m to broader gay politics and the role of identity as a stabilizing political signifier. I contend that, when pressed, Foucault attempts to invert the implications of Wilson’s reactive, universalizing identity politics. While not uncritical of s/m, Foucault recuperates the relational styles of the leathermen dramatized in Cruising as capable of cultivating queer worldly institutions in ways otherwise foreclosed and elided. Tempered by recent critiques of the ‘ethical turn’ in political theory, I argue that historicized within the contentious milieu of Cruising the Body Politic interview refigures how care of the self may induce worldly, political contestation. I conclude by arguing the (failed) attempt to ‘speak frankly’ about Cruising exemplifies a style of ‘cruising politics’ animated by affirming the risks haunting marginal and fragile queer relationships for the sake of resisting the impoverishment of worldly relational plurality.
Event Location
  • 135 Nicholson Hall
  • 216 Pillsbury Dr SE
  • Minneapolis MN
  • USA