12-1:15pm ET
October 30, 2016

Livestream of this panel sponsored by:
The Harnisch Foundation

For other sessions, see the full livestream schedule.

Tina Horn, Yana Calou, merritt k, and Milcah Halili Orbacedo

The potential of the written word to disturb and offend is more relevant now than ever before.
Conservatives continue to demand that literature reflect certain values, while progressives push for an understanding of the traumatic effect that extreme content can have. Yet some of the most important literature and journalism emerges from an urgent need to disrupt the status quo; and if you’re going to make an omelette, you might have to offend a few eggs. Between censorship and trigger warnings, how do we preserve a space for writing that experiments with sex, violence, profanity, bodies in flux, and other extreme subjects?

Join four queer nonfiction writers as we make the case for the social good of unladylike language and disgusting subject matter. Each of us is fascinated by content that makes people squirm: pleasure, plain, power, profanity, blood, skin, and guts. The subtext of our work—death, consent, race, trauma, and money—is even less polite.

Some questions we will address: How does fear of stigma prevent us from writing the unpretty truth? How is shock and provocation gendered? On a prose level, how do we claim profanity in the name of the feminine? Is it good for society when art makes us uncomfortable? What happens when women and queers wield bad words and taboo subjects? What possible literary value can be found in the abject? How is profanity a useful tool for clapping back against patriarchal and colonial control? Are we just doing this for attention?

This panel will honor the history of women and queer writers who push the envelope of impropriety, from Kathy Acker to Toni Morrison to Patti Smith to Sybil Lamb. Attendees may leave the panel eager to tap into their own vulgar sides.