Skip to main content

Berlant’s America

Center of Global Culture and Communication

(An interdisciplinary initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication)

Department of English &
Center for Transcultural Studies

jointly present

A Lambert Conference

Berlant’s America

(A Symposium on the Legacies of Lauren Berlant)

October 26 & 27, 2023
9:30 am– 5:00 pm
Harris 108

Northwestern University, 1881 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, IL 60208

Participants include: Kris Cohen (Art History and Humanities, Reed College), Lee Edelman (English, Tufts University), Jonathan Flatley (English, Wayne State University), Michael Hardt (Literature, Duke University), Lauren Jackson (English, Northwestern University), E. Patrick Johnson (Black Studies & Performance Studies, Northwestern University), Benjamin Lee (Anthropology and Philosophy, New School), Heather Love (English, University of Pennsylvania), Sianne Ngai (English, University of Chicago), Jonathan Schroeder (American Studies, Brandeis University), Kathleen Stewart (Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin), Michael Warner (English, Yale University), & Ken Wissoker (Editor, Duke University Press)

Convenors: Dilip Gaonkar (Rhetoric, Media & Publics, Northwestern University) &
Laurie Shannon (English, Northwestern University)


While the range of Lauren Berlant’s work is capacious, the engagement with “America” — its history, politics, and culture (art and literature, popular and performative, and much else) — stands out as a gravitational center and the preferred archive for her/their critical meditations, theoretical innovations, and reading practices. “Berlant’s America” is a distinctive “America,” as distinctive as Tocqueville’s, or Emerson’s, or Whitman’s. This conference will test the shapes of that America and of what Berlant indelibly named its “cruel optimism,” prompting us to think — and think again.