In The Ethics of Opting Out, Mari Ruti provides an accessible yet theoretically rigorous account of the ideological divisions that have animated queer theory during the last decade, paying particular attention to the field's rejection of dominant neoliberal narratives of success, cheerfulness, and self-actualization. More specifically, she focuses on queer negativity in the work of Lee Edelman, Jack Halberstam, and Lynne Huffer, and on the rhetoric of bad feelings found in the work of Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, David Eng, Heather Love, and José Muñoz. Ruti highlights the ways in which queer theory's desire to opt out of normative society rewrites ethical theory and practice in genuinely innovative ways at the same time as she resists turning antinormativity into a new norm. This wide-ranging and thoughtful book maps the parameters of contemporary queer theory in order to rethink the foundational assumptions of the field.
The Ethics of Opting Out grapples with the debates about utopia and negativity that have engaged queer critics for over a decade. Rather than simply taking sides, Mari Ruti works through the theoretical underpinnings of these positions, providing clear explanations and useful correctives along the way. By joining Lacanian fidelity to desire with the impulse to repair, Ruti points the way toward a queer ethics that is antinormative without being antisocial.
—Heather Love, Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania
The Ethics of Opting Out makes an unprecedented and unparalleled intervention into the field of queer theory. Ruti brings her profound expertise in both Lacanian theory and Foucauldian thought to the project, and it enables her to write a book that transcends the division that has hitherto defined the field. This is required reading not only for queer theorists but for anyone concerned with the question of ethics today.
—Todd McGowan, associate professor of English, the University of Vermont
This is an amazing book for its comprehensively critical and masterly treatment of the field of queer studies. Butler's relational anti-Lacanian ethics as well as Edelman's Lacanian anti-relationalism come in for equally vigorous criticism. Instead Ruti makes a pitch for a new Lacanian relational ethics of, if not love for, then at least living with the inhuman awkwardness of your neighbor.
—Henry Krips, Andrew W. Mellon All-Claremont Chair of Humanities and Professor of Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University
1. Queer Theory and the Ethics of Opting Out
2. From Butlerian Reiteration to Lacanian Defiance
3. Why There Is Always a Future in the Future
4. Beyond the Antisocial–Social Divide
5. The Uses and Misuses of Bad Feelings
Conclusion: A Dialogue on Silence with Jordan Mulder
About the Author:
Mari Ruti is professor of critical theory and of sexual diversity studies at the University of Toronto. She is the author of nine books, most recently Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics (2015).