Plenary Speakers

Judith Butler – University of California, Berkeley


Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She served as Founding Director of the Critical Theory Program at UC Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1984. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (1997), Excitable Speech (1997), Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning (2004); Undoing Gender (2004), Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (with Gayatri Spivak in 2008), Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2009), and Is Critique Secular? (co-written with Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, and Saba Mahmood, 2009) and Sois Mon Corps (2011), co-authored with Catherine Malabou. Her most recent books include: Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012), Dispossessions: The Performative in the Political co-authored with Athena Athanasiou (2013), Senses of the Subject (2015) and Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015).  Her future projects include work on messianic gestures in Kafka and Benjamin, philosophical fictions in Freud’s work, and gender in translation.

Kenneth Warren – University of Chicago


Kenneth Warren is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor and faculty member in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1988 and has been teaching at Chicago since 1991. His scholarship and teaching focuses on American and African American literature from the late nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth century. Warren is particularly interested in the way that debates about literary form and genre articulate with discussions of political and social change. His most recent book is What was African American Literature? (2011), in which he makes the provocative claim that African American Literature, as we have known it, is over.  Building on this argument, Warren sets out to identify a distinctly African American literature—and to change the terms with which we discuss it.  His first two books, Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism (1993) and So Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism (2003), explore how various understandings of black/white racial difference have affected, and continue to affect, the way that American authors write about and pass critical judgment on American literature

Linda Williams – University of California, Berkeley

Linda Williams2_smLinda Williams is Professor Emeretus of Film & Media and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.  Her most recent book is On The Wire (Duke 2014), a study of the HBO television serial. Her earlier books include a psychoanalytic study of Surrealist cinema, Figures of Desire (1981), a co-edited volume of feminist film criticism (Re-vision, 1984), an edited volume on film spectatorship, Viewing Positions (1993) and Reinventing Film Studies (co-edited with Christine Gledhill, 2000). In 1989 she published a study of pornographic film entitled Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the Frenzy of the Visible (second edition 1999). This study of moving-image pornography looks seriously at the history and form of an enormously popular genre. She has also edited a collection of essays on pornography, Porn Studies, featuring work by many U.C. Berkeley graduate students (Duke, 2004). More recently she published Screening Sex (Duke, 2008), a history of the revelation and concealment of sex at the movies. In 2001 Williams published Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White, from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson (2001, Princeton)–an analysis of racial melodrama spanning the 19th and 20th centuries of American culture.