Phenomenological Anonymity

This seminar explores anonymity in the work of Alfred Schutz and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, looking at the role anonymity plays in several areas of phenomenological inquiry: otherness, common sense, and the social world. The concept of anonymity offers a helpful way to mediate between phenomenology understood as a transcendental project or an “eidetic science” in Husserl’s words and phenomenology as the study of the perspectival situatedness of, and local practices in, the social world. Recent feminist phenomenology has turned to anonymity in order to think about the function of gender in the social world, and I suggest that anonymity understood in this sense can help elucidate the events surrounding the murder of Larry King, a gender-variant 15 year old student shot and killed by a classmate in his Oxnard, California junior high school in 2008. (Salamon)

Gayle Salamon is Assistant Professor of English and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University, where she was the Cotsen LGBT Postdoctoral Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows from 2005-2008. Her research interests include phenomenology, gender and queer theory, psychoanalysis, contemporary Continental philosophy and visual culture. She is the author of Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality (Columbia University Press, 2010), winner of the 2010 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies. Recent articles include “Sameness, Alterity, Flesh: Luce Irigaray and the Place of Sexual Undecidability” in Re-Writing Difference: Luce Irigaray and “The Greeks” (eds. Athena Athanasiou and Elena Tzelepis, SUNY Press, 2010), “The Phenomenology of Rheumatology: Disability, Merleau-Ponty, and the Fallacy of Maximal Grip” in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy and “Here are the Dogs: Class in Theory,” in the Twentieth Anniversary issue of Differences. She is currently at work on two manuscripts, one exploring narrations of bodily pain and disability in contemporary memoir entitled Painography: Metaphor and the Phenomenology of Chronic Pain and a second analyzing the murder of 15 year old Lawrence King.