Fall 2021

Consent & Subjection

Where and when did the notion of consent―so crucial for law and politics today―emerge?  Rooted in the concept of the social contract, consent affirms ideas of individual liberty and proprietary rights central to liberalism in the West, but emerged in an age of international trade in humans as commodities for capitalist exploitation and profit.  Consent has thus long served as an instrument of subjectivity and its attendant freedoms, and as a weapon of dehumanization, subjection, and coercion. This semester’s theme queries the construct of consent, an area of inquiry reinvigorated by recent debates in a variety of sectors, including:  sexual consent in corporate and university structures; revenge porn and digital privacy rights; and biomedical authority and involuntary treatment. Such debates have often centered the concerns of white liberalism, producing idealized subjects of victimhood through transactional narratives of consent. But recent scholarship in a range of fields has insisted on reframing the supposed universality of consent by asking:  how does consent emerge as an ambivalent or even pernicious property, a fetishized object that liberalism teaches us to desire, inextricably tied to the judicial right to privacy? We invite inquiries into (and beyond) the formation of consent across the disciplines, including but not limited to historical analyses of the shifting terrains of racialization and consent; legal reframings of consent outside the domain of liberalism; investigations of coercive consent within capitalist structures of participation and consumption; reworkings of seduction and subjection in critical sex work, kink and porn studies; and interrogations of involuntary consent and carcerality.


All lectures begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted.  Locations vary by date.


Screw Consent, or the Antiracist Politics of Public Sex

JOE FISCHEL• Yale University • DHC/DAC Tent (aka Hogwarts)


Slavery, Violence, and Unbound Sexual Violability 

PATRICE DOUGLASS • University of California, Berkeley • via Zoom


Hawaiian Decolonization and the Enduring Question of Feminism

KEHAULANI KAUANUI • Wesleyan University • DHC/DAC Tent (aka Hogwarts)


War, Queer Histories, and Consent

RANA MARIE JALEEL • University of California, Davis • Daniel Family Commons


How She Begot The Violence: Making Violence Against Black Women Ordinary

EMILY OWENS• Brown University • via Zoom



Right-Wing Populism and the Claims of Authenticity 

NINA HAGEL • Wesleyan University • Daniel Family Commons


Sites of Subjection: Black Women and the Crusade Against the One-Room Log Cabin

KAISHA ESTY • Wesleyan University • via Zoom


Decolonial Strategies of Resistance to the Fabrication of Consent

FRANÇOISE VERGÈS•  Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’homme • via Zoom *4:15pm EST


Sex as a Pedagogical Failure

AMIA SRINIVASAN • All Souls College, Oxford U • via Zoom 


(White) Civilization and the Antinomies of the Will

KERWIN KAYE • Wesleyan University • via Zoom