DISCO Network Lecture Series | Queer Silence: Rhetorical Quieting and an Erotics of Absence | Logan Smilges in Conversation with Remi Yergeau and David Adelman
The value of visibility is contingent on a variable, embodyminded social currency. Being seen tends to benefit most the people whose bodies and minds adhere closest to norms structured by whiteness, cisnormativity, and abledness. In their interactive talk, J. Logan Smilges shows how queer and otherwise marginalized populations navigate the risks that subtend their precarious visibility. Centering their analysis on the dating app Grindr, Smilges introduces profile pictures as a digital site for rhetorical quieting—a strategy whereby users regulate how their bodyminds signify to people around them. As part of their talk, Smilges will offer an opportunity for attendees to evaluate how their own social media use is situated within a political matrix of presence and absence.
J. Logan Smilges is an assistant professor of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia, where they study the interanimation of gender, sexuality, and disability as medical, social, and political categories. Driven by commitments to transfeminism and disability justice, Smilges is interested in the forms of solidarity practiced by trans, queer, and disabled people that engage the complicated histories conjoining all three communities. Their first book, Queer Silence: On Disability and Rhetorical Absence (University of Minnesota Press 2022), attends to the mutual disavowals of silence and disability in queer politics, and their second book, Crip Negativity (University of Minnesota Press 2023), proposes a model for critical negativity in the field of disability studies. Their other work is published or forthcoming in Transgender Studies Quarterly, College Composition and Communication, Disability Studies Quarterly, Rhetoric Review, Peitho, and elsewhere.
M. Remi Yergeau is Associate Professor of Digital Studies and English at the University of Michigan. Their book, Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness, was awarded the 2018 MLA First Book Prize, the 2019 CCCC Lavender Rhetorics Book Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship, and the 2019 Rhetoric Society of America Book Award. They are currently at work on a second book project about disability, digital rhetoric, surveillance, and (a)sociality, tentatively titled Crip Data. Active in the neurodiversity movement, they have previously served on the boards of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the Autism National Committee (AutCom).
David's research interests center disability and crip studies, with a particular emphasis on disability media studies, digital disability cultures, disability film studies, and critical sexuality studies. Through an interdisciplinary crip studies/feminist lens, he pursues questions which emerge at the intersection of power, culture, technology, identity, and desire. His recent dissertation, “Ambivalent Pleasures: Pleasure, Desire, Authenticity, and the Production of Value in Online Disability Cultures,” examines how discourses of “desirable disability” manifest in cultural productions and Internet publics. This project traces the circulation and intensification of such discourse in popular culture across a range of audiovisual material, exploring the neoliberal commodification of identity politics that occurs and is contested, online. He also maintains an artistic practice which centers experimental video as a means to explore disability culture, aesthetics, and politics.
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