Precarious Homes – Narratives and Practices of Home-Making in Turbulent Times: Neoliberalism, the Family, and Bourgeois Domesticity II
Building on a theoretical understanding of the family as a site of respite and illusion in the neoliberal present, this seminar reads Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy to explore the difficulties that women encounter in searching for belonging and self-definition. Focusing on the autofictional protagonist Faye, a newly divorced writer who is constantly on the move, having profound conversations with strangers in liminal places, this seminar seeks to discuss the possibility of reconceptualizing intimacy and relationality. How might “life” be lived differently, outside the conveniences and reassuring cadences of private, bourgeois domesticity? In what ways does the makeshift quality of Faye’s acquaintanceship and her wariness for chromonormativity manifest on a formal level? Somewhat unexpectedly, Faye reverts to traditional notions of home and belonging halfway through the series. In Transit, the second novel of three, she renovates a newly mortgaged house and we learn that she will remarry. What might her ambivalent retreat to conventional modes of home-making reveal about the literal and emotional cost of freedom? How does homesickness take on new valences as we meet more and more characters – predominantly female ones – who are both sick for and sick of home? With regards to format, this seminar will begin with a brief introduction of the texts and a few opening observations. The majority of the one-hour period will be dedicated to discussion in the style of a reading group.