Scripting Battered Women: Paths not Taken
a lecture by Kelli Moore with response by A.B. Huber
October 28, Friday
4 to 6 pm
Kelli Moore, Media, Culture, & Communication, New York University
A.B. Huber, Gallatin, New York University
This talk is part of Kelli Moore’s longer book-length project on legal and extra-legal debates over the subject of trauma and helplessness. In this presentation, she demonstrates surprising links between psychologists Lenore Walker, Martin Seligman, Silvan Tomkins, and Frantz Fanon – who briefly shared an institutional and intellectual milieu in the 1960s and 70s. This shared context, she argues, is a significant yet little remarked aspect of the archival landscape of domestic violence. The talk takes assumes an explicitly speculative posture to ask how we might understand domestic violence differently if Lenore Walker’s famous theory of the battered woman syndrome had explicitly followed Tomkins’ work rather than the theory of learned helplessness put forward by the American psychologist of motivation, Martin Seligman. Both Seligman and Tomkins engaged in writing practices that repeatedly figured the black American in analyses of passive subjectivity (Seligman) and the distress object (Tomkins). In contrast, Walker’s initial study of battered women excluded black participants. In a related set of speculations, Moore enlists the work of psychiatrist Frantz Fanon—whose preoccupations included the structure of the colonial mind, Negritude, and the significance placed on anticolonial violence—to chart a cybernetic route to theorizing the “forensic subject.”
Kelli Moore’s presentation will be followed by a response by A.B. Huber and discussion with the audience.
239 Greene Street, 8th Floor
Facebook event page here.