Department of English Language & Literature
“Research Talks” Lecture Series
6 December 2013, 15:00 – 16:30
1811 Dunton Tower
Toward an Ethic of “Self-Abuse”:
Ethics, Masturbation, and the Care of the Self
In his late work, Michel Foucault argues for an ethics founded on the ancient “care of the self,” a self-relation that critically resists the institution of rationalism, the ethics of autonomy, and their apotheosis in neoliberal biopolitics. As paradoxical as it may sound, this research talk figures masturbation as a metaphor for critical resistance and ethical self-relation. I argue that the master trope for the masturbator is catachresis, where “use” and “abuse” enter into fleshly and promiscuous ambivalence, and moral agency must be thought anew.