Laure Murat and Maggie Nelson: On Freedom Now

In the midst of the cultural revolution currently unfolding, hardly a week goes by in the media without a ferocious debate on cancel culture or an inflamed defense of freedom. In their latest publication, French author Laure Murat (Qui annule quoi ? Seuil) and American philosopher and memoirist Maggie Nelson (Freedom, Four Songs of Care and Constraint/ De la liberté. Quatre chants sur le soin et la contrainte, éditions du sous-sol, trans. Violaine Huisman) articulate the meanings and complexity of these catch-all terms, analyze the context in which they are used, and invite us to think collectively through the knots in our culture.

While Laure Murat investigates a selection of “public cancellations” and questions the dynamic of power at work behind each one, Maggie Nelson draws on a vast range of material–from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life–and explores ongoing “practices of freedom” by which we negotiate our interrelation with others.

At a time when public debates are excessively polarized, listen to Murat and Nelson as they debate these questions and might offer some guidance as to how to think about them and to accept difference and conflict as integral to our communion.

This conversation will be moderated by Eric Banks, Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities. This event is free and will take place in English, online, via Zoom. Please click here to register and receive a Zoom invitation.

Though this event is free, we would greatly appreciate if you could support Albertine by purchasing a copy of either Qui annule quoi ? (Le Seuil) or De la liberté. Quatre Chants sur le soin et la contrainte (éd. du Sous-Sol, tr. by Violaine Huisman).

Eric Banks, Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, is a writer and editor based in New York. A former senior editor of Artforum, Banks was editor in chief of Bookforum from 2003–2008. From 2011 to 2013, he served as president of the National Book Critics Circle and was a two-term member of the NBCC board of directors as well as chair of its award committees on Biography and Criticism. He was a judge of the Pulitzer Prize committees in Fiction in 2017 and 2020 and was chair of the judges committee in 2017.
Banks’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the 
New York Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, and the Financial Times, among many others. He has contributed essays to monographs on a number of artists, including Franz West, Christopher Wool, and Grant Wood. Additionally, he has edited numerous catalogs and collections of artists writings and is the consulting editor of the Robert Rauschenberg Catalogue Raisonné

Laure Murat is a professor in the Department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA. She specializes in cultural studies, the history of psychiatry, and queer theory. She is the author of several books, including La Maison du docteur Blanche (Lattès, 2001, Goncourt Prize of Biography and Critics Circle Prize of the Académie française), Passage de l’Odéon (Fayard, 2003), La Loi du genre (Fayard, 2006), L’Homme qui se prenait pour Napoléon (Gallimard, 2011, Femina Prize for non-fiction), translated into English as The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon. Towards a Political History of Psychiatry (Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 2014), Relire and Flaubert à la Motte-Picquet(Flammarion, 2015), and Ceci n’est pas une ville (Flammarion, 2016). A member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2005-2006), she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship (2012-2013) for her next book, entitled Women as Symptom or Madness at Work.

Maggie Nelson is the author of several books of poetry and prose, most recently the New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Argonauts (Les Argonautes, trans. by Céline Leroy). In France, the publisher éditions du sous-sol has released her previous books Bleuets (tr. by CéLine Leroy), Jane, un meurtre (tr. by Céline Leroy). Nelson teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.