Lauren Berlant on Genre

Cefai, Sarah. 2023. Lauren Berlant on Genre. Media Theory, 7(2), pp. 267-284. ISSN 2557-826X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

There is no doubt that the writing of Lauren Berlant is influential in media and cultural studies as well as across gender and feminist studies and other work in critical, cultural and materialist traditions. Given the complexity of Berlant’s work and its integral refusal of taxonomic and hegemonic terms, it can be difficult for the reader to coherently grasp the singularity of even their most powerful concepts. This essay attempts to think with Berlant’s conceptualisation of genre without displacing the concept from their work through representational summarisation. The essay is part close reading, part exegesis and part experimentation – I hope just as Berlant would have wished. Rather than aim for an even description that accounts for Berlant’s various interventions in a measured way, the method of this essay is to think-write with the ellipsis, to undertake a translation that puts to one side the fantasy of mastery but still seeks to deepen our understanding of the intended meaning of Berlant’s texts. For Berlant, intended meanings would be about what something brings into the world. At minimum, this is my best effort at partaking in a cultural studies pedagogy that foregrounds the practice of critical thinking as world making. The essay then offers an invitation to the reader to learn from Berlant’s work about what the theoretical concept of genre can do. Just as this abstract does, the essay moves in and out of convention, where the sociality of affect does its work to congeal, to disturb, to make sense and make senseless. To move on.

Item Type:



Genre, attachment, affect, climate change, trauma, optimism, Lauren Berlant

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


26 December 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

04 Jan 2024 11:57

Last Modified:

04 Jan 2024 11:57


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