Indiana University Bloomington

Spring 2020: Schedule of the Reading Group

Conveners: Colin Johnson (Gender Studies) and Nazareth Pantaloni III (IU Libraries)

The reading group usually meets Fridays, 2 - 3:30 pm, at the College Arts & Humanities Institute, 1211 E. Atwater Ave. The group studies selections from the following volumes:

The conveners recommend Reading Sedgwick (Duke, 2019) as an introduction to Sedgwick's work.

These titles are available in digital form through IUCAT (IU login required).

January 24
Epistemology of the Closet, Preface & Introduction, pp. xviii – middle of 22.

January 31
Epistemology, Introduction, pp. middle of 22 – top of 44.

February 7
Epistemology, Introduction, pp. top of 44 – 63.

February 14
Epistemology, Chapter 1, pp. 65 – 90.

February 21
Epistemology, Chapter 2, pp. 91 – 130.

February 28
Epistemology, Chapter 3, pp. 131 -- 157.

March 6
Epistemology, Chapter 3, pp. 157 – 181.

March 13
Epistemology, Chapter 4, pp. 182 -- 212.

March 20
Spring Break

March 27
Epistemology, Chapter 5, pp. 213 – 251.

April 3
“Shame, Theatricality, and Queer Performativity,” Touching Feeling, pp. 35-65.

April 10
“The Weather in Proust,” Weather in Proust, pp. 1 – 41.

April 17 & 18

April 24
“Queer and Now,” Tendencies, pp. 1 – 20.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet, Thirty Years On

This Spring, the Theory Center reading group devotes itself to a close study of the scholarly legacy of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. We focus on her influential book Epistemology of the Closet (1990), but we also examine her significant contributions to theories of performativity and affect, and her later work on the tactile and textural. Widely recognized as canonical in the interdisciplinary field of queer theory, her scholarship has had an impact on the critical study of law, race, art, literature, and disability, in addition to sexuality and gender.

What makes Sedgwick’s work apt for collective study and discussion? While foundational, it is generative. It constitutes one of the most important recent contributions to critical and theoretical reflections on the epistemology of difference, which she analyzes through diverse methods, including personal narrative, literary and psychoanalytic theory, and the history of sexuality. In her writing, Sedgwick attempts “not to know how far its insights and projects are generalizable…in advance.” Writing in order not to know in advance: that is the project of a different kind of epistemology—an epistemology of difference, an epistemology of the closet. Rather than bringing the path of thinking to a close, it opens new paths and invites more reflection. It is an audacious adventure of critical writing that we, the readers, are encouraged to continue.

The reading group first examines Epistemology of the Closet to assess what the text has to teach us today, thirty years after its first publication. Which interpretive and conceptual moves continue to urge new thinking and which have acquired the aura of the historical? Which modes of reading open the way to new critical practices? And what of the book’s politics? Can it still jolt us into action? If so, in what ways? The group also takes up some of her later writings to get a sense of the trajectory of her thinking.

The reading group meets every Friday afternoon from September 6 to November 15, from 2 till 3:30, in the College Arts & Humanities Institute, 1211 East Atwater Ave. On April 17-18, 2020, the work of the reading group culminates in a symposium dedicated to examining the legacy of Sedgwick’s work. All texts are available through IUCAT (IU login required).

Graduate students may receive independent-study credit for taking part in the reading group (1-4 credit of CTIH-T700). Interested students should contact the conveners, Colin Johnson and Nazareth Pantaloni, to agree on a work plan and get permission to register.

Like all Center activities, the reading group is open to the public.


The Reading Group constitutes the intellectual heart of the Center and predates the Center by many years. Here are some of the major texts the group has studied:

Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
Arendt, The Human Condition
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
Badiou, Being and Event.
Bakhtin, Art and Answerability.
Bergson, Matter and Memory.
Blumenberg,The Legitimacy of the Modern Age.
Cavell, The Claims of Reason.
Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.
Deleuze, Cinema I; Difference and Repetition.
Fink, Play as Symbol of the World.
Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject.
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Gadamer, Truth and Method.
Heidegger, Being and Time; Contriburtions to Philosophy (Of the Event).
Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences.
Lyotard, The Differend.
Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception; The Visible and the Invisible.
Plato, The Laws.
Rancière, The Names of History.
Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf.