Lauren Berlant

University of Chicago
Humanities and Arts
Literature and Language Studies
Member Since

Senior Americanist and long-time co-editor of the foremost US scholarly journal in critical theory, Berlant is recognized well beyond her home discipline as a leading critic, historian, and theorist of American literature and political subjectivity more broadly. Her first three single-authored books deliver an influential account of sentimentality as an aesthetic phenomenon and force in shaping national literary and popular cultural production as well as race, gender and sexuality, topics that focus her assessment of the relation between attachment to persons and attachment to the concepts that constitute political discourse. She is also a prominent theorist of trauma and the event, arguing that what are often called exceptional or catastrophic events actually take place in the ordinary, which she recasts as the ongoing precarious and creative scene of the life of the body, consciousness, and collectively held worlds. Berlant's many widely-reprinted critical essays and her other books of the 2000s have built on the national sentimentality work to establish her as a leading figure in feminist studies, queer theory, critical theory, cultural criticism, and the study of the affective processes that traverse aesthetic and lived forms of life.

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