On Using and Being Used: The Masochist in the Library
“Relying on the perhaps unlikely alliance of Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek, Ron Day, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, I read the formulation of a library “user” as a masochistic discourse. Such a frame illustrates the possibility for agency in acts of subordination – in a desire to submit – while demonstrating the necessary interrelation between the masochist and the dominant. I consider how the user is used by the library, and how the constitution of subjects is integral to relations of power between the library and its users. By submitting to the rules and cruising the lines of shelves, and then exposing, defying, and mocking the laws of classification, perverse readings and pleasures become differently possible across disciplinary borders. Upon analysis of the power structures in the library, the masochist assumes a position of power within the erotics of the library.”
Melissa Adler, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the School of Information Science and Faculty Affiliate with Gender & Women’s Studies and the Committee on Social Theory at the University of Kentucky. Her book, The Perverse Library: Knowledge Organization and the History of Sexuality, will be published by Fordham University Press in Spring 2017. She is also creating a digital catalogue of the Library of Congress’s post-World War II Delta Collection, a restricted collection of “obscene” materials.
Melissa will be speaking on day 2 of the conference