February 21, 2003 – Laura Kipnis: “Against Love”

Friday, February 21 / 5 PM / Stevenson 150

Love is, as we know, a mysterious and controlling force. It has vast power over our thoughts and life decisions. It demands our loyalty, and we, in turn, freely comply. Saying no to love isn’t simply heresy; it is tragedy – the failure to achieve what is most essentially human… For the modern lover, ‘’maturity’’ isn’t a depressing signal of impending decrepitude but a sterling achievement, the sine qua non of a lover’s qualifications to love and be loved… The prevailing cultural wisdom is that even if sexual desire tends to be a short-lived phenomenon, “mature love’’ will kick in to save the day when desire flags. The issue that remains unaddressed is whether cutting off other possibilities of romance and sexual attraction for the more muted pleasures of mature love isn’t similar to voluntarily amputating a healthy limb… But if it behooves a society to convince its citizenry that wanting change means personal failure or wanting to start over is shameful or simply wanting more satisfaction than what you have is an illicit thing, clearly grisly acts of self-mutilation will be required.

Laura Kipnis, “Against Love: A Treatise on the Tyranny of Two,”
New York Times Magazine, October 14, 2001

After an art school education and a period working as a video artist-critic, Laura Kipnis now teaches media and cultural studies at Northwestern, where she is Professor of Radio-TV-Film. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim
Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts for film making and cultural criticism. Her video work includes A Man’s Woman and Marx: The Video. Her previous books are Ecstasy Unlimited: On
Sex, Capital, Gender, and Aesthetics
 (Minnesota,1993); and Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America (Duke,1999); her next book, Against Love: A Polemic will be published in September by Pantheon.

Professor Kipnis’s talk is presented in conjunction with the Center for Cultural Studies Queer Theory Research Cluster conference. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Cultural Studies, the Feminist Studies Research Unit of the Institute for Humanities Research, and The Siegfried B. and Elisabeth Mignon Puknat Literary Studies Endowment.