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American Intimacies

This AMCS program initiative seeks to bring into more formal and productive conversation Americanist faculty who work on intimate relationships in their historical and theoretical dimensions.

Some initial framing questions for this program initiative include:

How have intimate relationships changed over the past two centuries in America? In what ways are contemporary intimacies new, not only in terms of the nature of the parties involved but also in terms of the expected content of such relationships? What has been the role of the state, society and new technologies in regulating, normalizing and enabling such relationships?

How do we analyze various forms of American intimacy in a transnational, global framework? How do we rethink the relation between intimacy and alienation in the current moment? What forms of intimacy does the contemporary family (normative and non-normative) generate? How do we think about the relation between affective labor and intimacy? How do we conceptualize commercial forms of intimacy (sex work, massage parlors, etc). Is there a political economy of intimacy? What forms of intimacy are generated through new digital technologies?

How might we use performance to create intellectual exchange between the St. Louis public and Washington University? What conversations can be forged between practitioners and theorists of performance that may help dissolve cultural tensions or create social change within our communities?

What are the "proper objects" of intimacies and how do deviations from these subvert or reinforce social norms? What are the perils and advantages of maintaining a conceptual or regulatory division between "public" and "private" attachments and intimacies?

These are just preliminary thoughts and questions, which by no means exhaust what is possible. If you are interested in participating--in getting better acquainted and sharing current projects and frames of reference, all with an eye towards forming a reading group/regular forum to share works-in-progress and perhaps looking towards more ambitious pursuits in the future--please email the faculty conveners listed on the right.

key contacts

Linda Nicholson

Professor, Department of History

Professor, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Susan E. and William P. Stiritz Distinguished Professor of Women's Studies

Jennifer Gallinat

Administrative Coordinator