Instinct and Desire, the Monster and the Machine in Western Literature from Antiquity to Modernity

Ghent University, November 23-24, 2017

Organisers: Sophie Wennerscheid & Marco Formisano


Keynote speakers:

  • Giulia Sissa (UCLA)
  • Patricia MacCormack (Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge)
  • Line Henriksen (University of Copenhagen)



Thursday, 23 November 2017

13:00   Welcome and opening remarks


Section 1: Transformations of Sexuality in Pre-Modernity

 13:15   Keynote 1: Giulia Sissa (Los Angeles/Paris): Nova corpora. Amorous Re-Embodiments in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

 14:15 Coffee break

 14:30   Chiara Thumiger (Berlin/Warwick): Astrology and Pathologised Sex: The Creation of Sexual Disorders in the Early Centuries of our Era​.

 15:15   Marco Formisano (Ghent): Masochism, Instinct, and Antiquity. Leopold von Sacher- Masoch’s Venus in Furs.

 16:00   Coffee break


Section 2: Instinct and Desire in the 18th and 19th Centuries

 16:15   Jan Vanvelk (Leuven): Economies of Instinct: Science Fiction and the Long Nineteenth Century

 17:00   Anke Gilleir (Leuven): Female Sovereignty and Perverse Sexuality in 18th and 19th Centuries Literature

 17:45  Coffee break

 18:15   Keynote 2: Patricia Mac Cormack (Cambridge): How does the Humanimal Desire?

 20:30   Dinner


Friday, 24 November 2017


Section 3: Pornography and Monstrous Sexuality in 20th Century Literature

9:00    Karen Van Hove (Leuven): Pornographic Metamorphosis in Stories by C.C. Krijgelmans and Willem G. van Maanen

9:45     Gunther Martens (Ghent): On Automats and Affects in German Postwar Literature

10:30   Coffee break

10:45   Petra Broomans (Groningen): Desire, sexuality and the Abominable Other in Kerstin Ekman’s novels


Section 4: Science and Sexuality in Contemporary Literature and Film

11:30   Keynote 3: Line Henriksen (Copenhagen): In the Company of Ghosts

12:30   Lunch

13:30   Bart Eeckhout (Antwerpen): Queer Animals: Learning from Rebecca Brown’s The Dogs and Jaime Manrique’s Latin Moon in Manhattan

14:15   Marco Caracciolo (Ghent): Sex, Science, and Metaphor in Contemporary “Lab Lit”

15.00   Coffee break

15:15   Sophie Wennerscheid (Ghent): The Future of Desire. Representations of Man-Machine Intimate Relationships in Contemporary Science Fiction Literature and Film

16:00   concluding remarks


Selective bibliography:

Braidotti, Rosi: The Posthuman. Polity Press, (2013) 2015.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome (ed.). Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Formisano, Marco: ‘Im Sinne der Antike. Masochism as Roman Error in Venus in Furs’, in B. Dufallo, Roman Error: Transgressions and Receptions of Roman Antiquity, Oxford: Oxford University Press (in press).

Freud, Sigmund: The Uncanny. Penguin Books. (1919) 2003.

Grusin, Richardt (ed.): The Nonhuman Turn. Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Haraway, Donna J.: ‘The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others’, in: Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson & Paula A. Treichler (eds.) Cultural Studies. Routledge, 1992.

---: When Species Meet. University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Henriksen, Line: ‘Here be Monsters – A Choreomaniac’s Companion to the Danse Macabre’, in: Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, 23:3, 2014, 414-423.

Knafo, Danielle & Rocco Lo Bosco: The Age of Perversion. Desire and Technology in Psychoanalysis and Culture. Routledge, 2017.

Levy, David: Love and Sex with Robots. The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships. Duckworth, 2008.

Lönngren, Ann-Sofie: Following the Animal: Power, Agency, and Human-Animal Transformations in Modern, Northern-European Literature. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.

MacCormack, Patricia: “Unnatural Alliances”, in: Deleuze and Queer Theory. Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2005, 134-149.

---: Post-Human Ethics. Ashgate 2012.

Mittman, Asa Simon & Peter Dendle (eds.): The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous. Ashgate, 2012.

Sissa, Giulia: Sex and Sensuality in the Ancient World. Yale University Press, London 2008.

Wennerscheid, Sophie: Das Begehren nach der Wunde. Religion und Erotik im Schreiben Kierkegaards. Matthes & Seitz 2008.