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ASCA / NICA seminar series organized by members of the ASCA Research Group Sex Negativity | Organizers: Dr. Marija Cetinić, Tessel Veneboer, Stefa Govaart, Persis Bekkering | Research Assistants: Catrinel Radoi and Imogen Grigorovich | To participate and for readings, please contact Catrinel Radoi,

Collective debates on sex among feminists in the late 1960s and 1970s elicited two polarizing views: sex positivists and those deemed “anti-sex”. This dyad unleashed a prolific energy of discussion, argument, and analysis––driven as it was by the hope that either bookend would one day complete the daunting task of articulating the essence of “woman” in its unabating subordination to “man”, that is, of pinpointing the essence of woman on the terms of sexual difference. Yet, as Andrea Long Chu remarks à propos this history, “the stronger feminist theories of sex got, the less effective they became” (“The Impossibility of Feminism,” 63). Ushering in a third wave of feminist thinking, the focus of critical inquiry shifted with the emergence of queer theory in the North American academic context in the 80s and early 90s. Rather than foregrounding sexual difference as the very grounds from which sprang a well-reasoned landscape of social identities, “queer” halted that considerable faith in identitarian intelligibility. Historically analyzing the usage of the word by field-defining figures such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and David M. Halperin, theorist and linguist Mel Y. Chen concludes that “[queer theory] departs from dominant feminisms in the United States…in its refusal…to advocate or politically favor any particular category other than the (sexually) nonnormative” (Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, 69). However, if sedimentation best describes the social temporality in which bodies materialize, antinormativity is itself regulated and constrained by that which it denounces. In line with Robyn Wiegman and Elizabeth A. Wilson’s “invitation to think queer theory without assuming a position of antinormativity from the outset” (in the introduction to the special issue of differences, Antinormativity’s Queer Conventions) we ask, How to approach normativity on something other than dyadic terms? We Have Never Had Sex is an attempt to think a more contradictory site than the norm/anti-norm topology still present in queer theory today.

Asserting that sex is (the) non-relation, Jacques Lacan’s “There is no sexual relation” is an essential precursor. Importantly, Lacan’s statement in the negative never aimed to ontologize this constitutive non-relation that sex is into intelligible (non)relationships. However, this didn’t prevent it from being canalized in precisely that way: from “relationships are impossible” to “true love doesn't exist”. Such truisms vis-à-vis relationality misconstrue sex’s confrontation with (the) non-relation as “the cause of the oddities and difficulties within all concrete relationships” (Zupančič, What is Sex?, 23). To falsely decode the non-relation as an obstacle is to think it can be overcome. But for Lacan it wasn’t an obstacle to but the (il)logical condition of relational possibility. So sex names a structural antagonism without the optimism of ontological completeness: “We have never had sex,” declares philosopher Oxana Timofeeva.

Prone to installing a logic that exploits difference for the sake of unimaginative sameness, negativity cannot be rendered politically coherent. Negativity is relentless, unnatural, contrived. However, the seminar We Have Never Had Sex does not seek to reduce sex to––nor celebrate sex as––negativity as if it were a bad thing, or, “antisocial”. Sex will have meant work, work in and on the social to which we stay committed and with which we enjoy, too. Heeding the circumlocutionary mode that speaking of sex demands, this seminar series will think sex ​​in its ontological relevance (Lacan, Butler, Zupančič); its relation to negativity and nonsovereignty (Berlant & Edelman 2014, Bersani 2018, Chu 2019); the relatedness of transness and Blackness (Bey 2017); its figuration in cultural objects (Troyan 2014, 2020; Elagoz 2021). An experiment in forms of speculation, the seminar gathers poets, philosophers, artists, performers, and scholars to grapple with questions of foundation, logic, and limit, asking how sex is a site of or an encounter with negativity that troubles totality, a "relentless force that unsettles the fantasy of sovereignty" (Berlant & Edelman, Sex, or the Unberable, viii).

WE HAVE NEVER HAD SEX seminar series SPRING 2024

Dates: 16 January 2024, 15 February 2024, 5 March 2024 (more TBA)

Organizers: SEX NEGATIVITY Research Group (Dr. Marija Cetinić, Tessel Veneboer, Persis Bekkering, Stefa Govaart)

For registration and readings:

Session 1, Without/Beyond: Sexuality, Consent, Gender, Identity

This talk offers a counterintuitive approach to think about gender as not rooted in a core gender identity but as a part of psychic life that is already infiltrated by trauma, by the other, and by culture.

Public lecture and masterclass with Ann Pellegrini and Avgi Saketopoulou | Date and time: Tuesday January 16, 18-20h| Location: OMHP room C 0.17

Readings: Introduction and Chapter 1, Sexuality Beyond Consent; Introduction and (additional reading) Chapter 1, Gender Without Identity

Dr Ann Pellegrini is Professor of Performance Studies and Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU, and a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. They are the author/co-author of Performance Anxieties: Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race; Love and Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance; You Can Tell Just By Looking; 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People; and Gender Without Identity. She and Dr. Avgi Saketopoulou are the receipients of the first Tiresias Paper Award, from IPA’s sexual and Gender Diversity Studies Committee for their co-written essay “A Feminine Boy: Normative investments and Reparative fantasy at the Intersections of Gender, Race, and Religion.”

Dr Avgi Saketopoulou is a psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC and a member of the faculty of NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Her published work has received numerous prizes, including the annual JAPA Essay Prize and the Ralph Roughton Award. She is the 2022 recipient of the Scholarship Award from the division of psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association (Div. 39) and, with Ann Pellegrini, the recipient of the first Tiresias Essay Prize, from the International Psychoanalytic Associations’ committee on sexual and gender diversity. Her interview on relational psychoanalysis is part of the permanent collection of the Freud Museum in Vienna and in 2021 she co-chaired the first US-based conference dedicated to the work of Jean Laplanche. Her book, Sexuality Beyond Consent: Risk, Race, Traumatophilia, is forthcoming in February 2023 from the Sexual Cultures series, NYU Press.

Session 2, Social Hell and the Resistance of Discourse

Public lecture and seminar with Nadia Bou Ali | Date and time: Thursday February 15, 13-17h | Location: TBA

This talk analyses Marx's political theory via both Dante and Lacan. I draw on William Claire Robert's Marx's Inferno with a focus on the social hell of original accumulation and place it in relation to Lacan's theory of discourse. Lacan's theory of discourse is based on the original sin of identifying with the narcissism of God, doubled in the subject of the unconscious. I propose a theory of social hell in relation to the impotence of discourse and ask: Is original narcissism, which is located in the Imaginary and canalized by capital, the cause of the repetition of aggressivity and violence? I argue that when discourse disavows its inherent impossibilities and resists the negative it unleashes an exterminatory death drive. Psychoanalysis promises only a weak retort to this problem: the subjectification of death in analysis cannot overcome the resistance of discourse, whose impotence stifles. Marx offers a strong critique of this problem by refusing to give discourse the remit of mediation: discourse does not mediate, social forms do. How do we burn the effigies of social forms in our social hell? The cost is high, but increasingly inescapable. 

Nadia Bou Ali is Associate Professor and Director of the Civilization Studies Program at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She is the author of Hall of Mirrors: Psychoanalysis and the Love of Arabic (Edinburgh University Press, 2020). She is co-editor (with Rohit Goel) of Lacan contra Foucault: Subjectivity, Sex, Politics (Bloomsbury 2018) and of Extimacies: Encounters Between Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (co-edited with Surti Singh), forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. She is also editing the first English translation of Mehdi Amel’s Theoretical Prolegomenon on the Impact of Socialist Thought in the National Liberation Movement: On Contradiction and The Colonial Mode of Production for Brill’s Historical Materialism Book Series. Nadia is a practicing analyst and member of The Lacan School, Bay Area, San Francisco.

Session 3, ON AB-SENS

Date and time: TBA

Reading group on Lee Edelman’s “Nothing Ventured: Psychoanalysis, Queer Theory, and Afropessimism” in Bad Education and Hortense J. Spillers “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book”

Session 4, On Anteaesthetics

Public Lecture and seminar by Rizvana Bradley | Tuesday March 5, 11-15h | Location: Doelenzaal, Universiteitsbibliotheek

Rizvana Bradley is Assistant Professor of Film and Media and Affiliated Faculty in the History of Art and the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the 2023–24 Terra Foundation Visiting Professor at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. Bradley’s book, Anteaesthetics: Black Aesthesis and the Critique of Form (Stanford University Press, 2023), moves across multiple histories and geographies, artistic mediums and forms—from nineteenth-century painting and early cinema, to contemporary text-based works, video installations, and digital art—in order to inaugurate a new method for interpretation, an ante-formalism, which demonstrates black art’s recursive deconstruction of the aesthetic forms that remain foundational to modernity.



ASCA / NICA seminar series organized by members of the ASCA Research Group Sex Negativity

To participate and for readings, please contact Catrinel Radoi,


Public lecture and masterclass with Ariana Reines

Date: 27 October 2023 | Time: 13h-16h | Location: OMHP, C 2.17

Ariana Reines is an award-winning poet, Obie-winning playwright, performing artist, and translator. Ariana’s books include A Sand Book, winner of the  2020 Kingsley Tufts Prize & longlisted for the National Book Award, The Cow, winner of the Alberta Prize, Coeur De Lion, Mercury, and The Origin Of The World. In 2012 she created Ancient Evenings, an innovative platform generating creative writing through ancient texts, as well as Lazy Eye Haver, an astrology practice through which she pioneered new forms of arts and consciousness pedagogy. In March 2020, she created Invisible College, a hub for poetry, art, & sacred study online. Recent performance & teaching projects include Divine Justice (2022), a 25-hour durational performance inspired by Medea at Performance Space NY, and Gnostic Poetics, a unique seminar/workshop on the Nag Hammadi library held at Scripps College in 2022.


Poetry reading with Ariana Reines

Date: 27 October 2023 | Time: 20h | Location: Perdu


Reading group on Lee Edelman's "Nothing Ventured: Psychoanalysis, Queer Theory, and Afropessimism" in Bad Education and Hortense J. Spillers "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book"

Date: 24 November 2023 | Time: 13h-16h | Location: Roeterseiland REC GS 0.08


Public seminar and lecture with Nadai Bou Ali

Date: 11 January 2024 | Time: 13-17h

Location: TBA

Nadia Bou Ali is Associate Professor and Director of the Civilization Studies Program at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She is the author of Hall of Mirrors: Psychoanalysis and the Love of Arabic (Edinburgh University Press, 2020). She is co-editor (with Rohit Goel) of Lacan contra Foucault: Subjectivity, Sex, Politics (Bloomsbury 2018) and of Extimacies: Encounters Between Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (co-edited with Surti Singh), forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. She is also editing the first English translation of Mehdi Amel's Theoretical Prolegomenon on the Impact of Socialist Thought in the National Liberation Movement: On Contradiction and The Colonial Mode of Production for Brill's Historical Materialism Book Series. Nadia is a practicing analyst and member of The Lacan School, Bay Area, San Francisco.


Each public lecture is accompanied by a seminar (masterclass) for RMA students, PhD-candidates and staff.

rMA and PhD students are eligible to take this workshop for credit. BA and MA students are welcome to attend workshops (not for credit).


SEMINAR SCHEDULE Spring 2022                                      

Session 1, Sex, or Negativity

Introductory session, 

Thursday March 10 2022, 16-19h, PCH 5.60


Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman, "Sex without Optimism" in Sex, or the Unbearable, 1-34.

Alenka Zupančič, "Introduction" and "It's Getting Strange in Here" in What is Sex?, 1-19.

Session 2, We have never had Sex

Public Lecture and seminar by Dr. Oxana Timofeeva (she/her), April 21, 2022

Seminar, 13-15h

Public Lecture, 17-18:30h

Oxana Timofeeva is Sc.D., Professor at “Stasis” Center for Philosophy at the European University at St. Petersburg, leading researcher at Tyumen State University, member of the artistic collective "Chto Delat?" ("What is to be done?"), deputy editor of the journal "Stasis", and the author of books Solar Politics (Polity 2022), How to Love a Homeland (Kayfa ta, 2020), History of Animals (Bloomsbury, 2018; Jan van Eyck, 2012), Introduction to the Erotic Philosophy of Georges Bataille (2009), and other writings.

Session 3, Lecture and Seminar with Maxi Wallenhorst

Tuesday May 24, 15-18h

OMHP A0.09



The seminar takes as its starting point recent moves (in critical theory, pop discourse and aesthetic practice) towards racialized and gendered modes of “unfeeling from below” (Xine Yao) under capitalism. Specifically dissociation: the problematic experience of not feeling it, among other things. Dissociation can be described (after Lauren Berlant), from pathologization to the ordinary, as a way to name an anaesthetic mediation – a veiling, shattering, blurring – of the genres of normative personhood. In the session, we look at queer and trans writers who have explicitly tied the work of dissociation to the everyday negativity of sex and gender, and who have come up with specific styles to write through such incoherency, e.g. Torrey Peters and Jackie Ess. Close-reading scenes where the gendered and sexual dimensions of not feeling it become literal, like in zoning out during sex, we work towards the following question: What can we do with a poetics of dissociation ... in the context of a materialist sexual politics? 

Maxi Wallenhorst is a writer living in Berlin. Recent texts have appeared in Texte zur Kunst and The Interjection Calendar from Montez Press.


Intro Mode: Xine Yao – Disaffected. The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in 19th-Century America (Introduction) (2021)

Vibes Mode: Maxi Wallenhorst – "Like a Real Veil, Like a Bad Analogy: Dissociative Style and Trans Aesthetics" (2021) ...

[Supplementary-ish: pick one to three]

Dense Mode: Lauren Berlant – "On Being in Life Without Wanting the World. No World Poetics, or Elliptical Life" (2022) (Unpublished, Do Not Circulate)

Related / Unrelated Mode: Jordy Rosenberg – "One Utopia, One Dystopia" (Afterword to Transgender Marxism) (2021)

Beach Read Mode: Jackie Ess – Darryl (2021) ... until chapter "LGBTC"

Session 4, Performance Lecture and Seminar with Cassandra Troyan

Thursday June 2, 13-16h

PCH 4.04


In this performance lecture and seminar, Cassandra Troyan will discuss the politics of sexual pleasure, indifference, and negativity as they relate to the core thematics of sex work, BDSM, and gendered violence in their writing. Focusing mainly on their most recent books, KILL MANUAL (2014) and Freedom & Prostitution (2020), they will address the radical possibilities in redefining liberation through a position of sex work against work and other practices of refusal. 

Cassandra Troyan is a writer, artist, and researcher whose work explores the intersections of gendered violence, radical histories of resistance, sex work, and speculative futures beyond capital. They are the author of several books of multi-genre work, including, Freedom & Prostitution (2020), A Theory in Tears (2016), KILL MANUAL (2014), and THRONE OF BLOOD (2013). Recent publications include an exhibition text written in collaboration with artist Reba Maybury for her exhibition "Faster Than an Erection" at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, Italy (MACRO), and with Helen V. Pritchard, "The Anti Menagerie: Methods for Interrogating the Supremacy of World-Shaping Violence," in Multispecies Storytelling in Intermedial Practice from punctum books. They live in Kalmar, Sweden and teach theory, practice, and creative-critical writing as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Design at Linnaeus University.


Foucault, Michel. “Sex, Power and the Politics of Identity” in Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth. Edited by Paul Rabinow, New Press, 1997. Page cited: p.163-175


Introduction to Other Weapon’s “Sex Work Against Work,” for The Prostitutes of Lyon Speak Out (1976), a two-part retrospective of the videos of Carole Roussopoulos and Delphine Seyrig. Another Screen, July 2021

Cassandra Troyan, Freedom & Prostitution (2020)

Cassandra Troyan, Kill Manual (2014