Seely, Stephen

Job Placement: Post Doc University of Warwick, IAS, Institute of Advanced Study
Webpage: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/fellows/wirl/seely/
Committee: Cornell, Drucilla (chair); Grosz, Elizabeth (co-chair); Cohen, Ed (internal member); Fermon, Nicole (outside member)
Dissertation: "A world of difference"

Bio

Stephen graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with degrees in English and Gender and Women's Studies. His dissertation project explores the relationship between sex/uality and technicity in philosophy, psychoanalysis, the biological and techno-sciences, and science fiction. In general, Stephen's work seeks to think through the reconfigurations of life, sex, and spirit/psyche wrought by contemporary forms of information and biocapitalism, technoscience, and neoliberal governmentality. In addition to his dissertation, there are currently two main ongoing projects through which this work takes shape. The first is a collaboration with Drucilla Cornell rethinking the relationship between revolution, spirituality, and sexual ethics as they have been configured in queer and feminist theory and in various revolutionary movements (especially Iran and South Africa). Their article "There’s Nothing Revolutionary About a Blowjob" is forthcoming in Social Text, and they are currently working on a book. The second project develops the concept of psychecologies which couples the framework of ecosophy” (ecological philosophy, philosophical ecology) in Félix Guattari’s writings with a more capacious understanding of psyche as mind-spirit-life-ghost in order to widen the individualistic frame of contemporary psychology by centralizing the concern for both the collective and environmental dimensions of life. The notion of psychecology then shifts psychology from the study of the (individual) mind to a consideration of a series of inter-linked ecosystems (mental, collective, environmental), as well as thinks critically about what care practices are necessary to maintain a balance among these systems at varying scales, from the individual to the global. Additionally, he has published work on queer becoming, affect theory, race and psychoanalysis, sexual difference, and biophilosophy.

Abstract

This dissertation is an exploration of the co-imbrications of Being, life, and sex: of the sexuate dimensions of Being (or, perhaps better put: of living) and of the ontological (or, perhaps better put: vital) dimensions of sex. It asks: What is the relationship between Being and living? Does Being, or life, have (a) sex? What is the, often implicit, ontology of life and sex that prevails in feminist and queer theory and politics? And what questions and practices might another thinking of Being, life, and sex enable? Its goal is to outline a feminist and queer theory of sexuation as a mode of individuation and relation that moves beyond the ontology of the individual that dominates Euro-American philosophy (and therefore most feminist and queer theory): rather than taking the individual as a starting point and analyzing sexuality as a form of identity, subjectivity, or interaction between individuals, it thinks sexuation as a vital ontological process of individuation and relation at work at a number of “levels” from the physico-chemical to the ecological, technological, artistic, and political. Its central argument is that, as a mode of individuation, sexuation consists simultaneously of differentiation and relation and that this is a process given by Being, or life, “itself.” As such, it thinks Being, or life, as always already more-than-one. This theory of sexuation, then, is a theory of life’s Being, or becoming, that insists on sexual difference as an ineradicable and ontological force while also insisting on its open-endedness. We do not know what forms of sexuation life may bring, or what modes of life sexuation may bring, but the becomings of life and sex take place in and through one another. Understanding sexuation this way, it suggests, cuts across many ongoing debates in feminist, queer, and trans theory and highlights unexplored areas of transdisciplinary research and feminist inquiry. If there is no dimension of Being, or life, at which the isolated individual exists and if there is no dimension of Being, or life, at which sexuation is not at play, then there is no dimension that does not call for feminist and queer analysis.