Mareike Stanitzke (Bentley University)
Jackie O'Dell (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)
The unbearable always feels like the end. And yet, Lee Edelman and Lauren Berlant write in Sex, or the Unbearable, encountering the unbearable “unleashes the energy that allows for the possibility of change.” Such movements towards change occur across genres and scales, from the inter-galactic effort to unwrite an apocalyptic ending in Avengers: End Game, to combating climate change in the emergent “Cli-fi” genre, to tidying up on self-improvement shows that attempt to make domestic life more bearable. Such depictions of persisting, attenuating, and enduring raise questions about the size, scope, and location of the unbearable. Recent conversations in disability studies and animal studies also help us recognize the unbearable as highly contingent upon normative definitions of what a bearable life looks like. This panel is interested in how encountering or experiencing the unbearable has recently been theorized or represented across genres and mediums. What happens when what you imagined as life is over? How might emerging work at the intersections of disability, trans, and animal studies change how we theorize viability/(re)productivity? How do we understand the unbearable in terms of size or scale? And how has the unbearable changed shape over time?
This panel welcomes papers that pursue these questions from any theoretical tradition or intersectional framework.