Angry Subjects: In/Civility, Christian Nationalism, and the Paranoid Position in an Age of Trump

01 Mar 2017


In her now-classic 1981 essay “The Uses of Anger,” Audre Lorde commends anger as a force that allows us to attend to histories of structural oppression. In particular, she urges women of color to name and speak their anger aloud and challenges white feminists to hear it without getting defensive. Meeting Lorde’s charge—to tarry with anger—remains no less urgent and no less discomforting today than it was when she issued her call in 1981. A call to and for anger may even seem counter-intuitive and counter-productive in the age of Trump. Shouldn't we want less rancor, fewer angry words in public? This paper returns to Lorde as a resource for the present-day and as a retort, as well, to those who bemoan the loss of civility in U.S. political discourse. Focusing on concrete case studies—and drawing on the resources of queer of color critique, psychoanalysis, and affect studies—this talk traces how norms of civility have worked to encode white Christian nationalism. For which subjects and which bodies, was anger ever permissible and civility ever an achievable ideal?

Free and open to the public. Reception to follow.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 5:00pm
Sponsored By: 
University of Pittsburgh Department of Religious Studies
602 CL, Humanities Center, University of Pittsburgh