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Presented By: Department of English Language and Literature

Dissertation chapter workshop: "Loving as Explanation," Michaela Kotziers (PhD candidate, English)

Poetry & Poetics Workshop

Please join us for a discussion of U-M English Language & Literature PhD candidate Michaela Kotzier's dissertation chapter, “Loving as Explanation," on Wednesday, March 8th at 10:30am. You can sign up to receive the chapter here:

"My dissertation explores the cultural and personal significance of reading and writing for lesbians. I research the ways that sexuality is experienced through reading and writing, and how various textual forms afford particular experiences of sexuality. My methods include thinking theoretically about the interconnectedness of reading, writing, intimacy, and sexuality as experiential phenomena, as well as a cultural-historical approach to close reading lesbian-authored texts from the 70s and 80s that forefront this interconnectivity.
This chapter experiments with letter writing, journaling, poetry, and memoir-like essay to theorize written intimacies and pleasure, narratives of lesbian identity formation, and the forcefield of lesbian stereotypes and invisibility. I include close readings of Virginia Woolf’s epistolary exchanges with Violet Dickinson and Vita Sackville-West, reflections on written exchanges as queer worldmaking, and argue for the ways that letter writing and desire mirror each other in their formal structures. The autotheoretical mode in which I write much of this chapter is influenced by the form of Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick, as well as her book’s foundational proposition that you can study something at the same time that you are doing it. For Kraus’s narrator, this means performing the gendered codes and obsessions of heterosexual romance by writing reams of unsent letters to a man she hardly knows, all the while amassing a portfolio of epistolary performance art. For my chapter, this means reflecting on the written intimacy of a former lesbian relationship by way of writing letters to that ex and forging a new, differently complex intimacy."

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