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Cultivating a Desire to Become “Not-Something”: Lauren Berlant, the Idioms of the Ordinary, and the Kinetic Temporality of the “Nearly Utopian”

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Abstract:

Based on a close reading of The Female Complaint, this article details the larger theoretical and political stakes of Lauren Berlant's inquiry into the appeal of “the normal” as set forth in the genre of the sentimental. The article analyzes Berlant's complex account of how the sentimental works for its female audience and, by focusing on two of the key concepts she uses, “the nearly utopian” and “the not-something,” explores why Berlant places process, ceaseless movement, and change at the heart of her argument. The article argues that Berlant seeks to imagine a non-reified, dynamic, open-ended orientation to the world; one that would build on theoretical knowledge to intervene politically in the ordinary of daily living.

Keywords: Normativity; The Female Complaint; The Nearly Utopian; The Sentimental

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420.2012.730221

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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