Are sex and gender the same thing? Are trans* and intersex the same thing? Do we even need the category of sex anymore? Is it hopelessly retrograde, a category that has run its course and has rightly been replaced by the endlessly more flexible category of gender? The short answer is no. We still need the concept of sex, but not as a binary concept. Instead “In Defense of Sex” will put forward a concept of sex as embodying a different materiality than gender, one that can form in tension with gendered embodiments and identifications and one that asserts its own forms of agency, resistance, and refusal. It will do so by drawing on intersex theory and gender theory, and a range of different materialist theories. A robust and nonreductive account of gender, sexuality, identification, and subjectivity needs to (re)theorize sex. This talk will attempt to begin this work of retheorizing sex for the present.
Christopher Breu is Professor of English at Illinois State University. He is the author of Insistence of the Material: Literature in the Age of Biopolitics (2014) and Hard-Boiled Masculinities (2005), both published by the University of Minnesota Press. He is also the editor of the “Intersex Writing” issue of American Book Review (2016) and the “Materialisms” issue of Symploke (2016).
Contact: Emily Tarchokov