This is the reading group in advance of the Cruel Work symposium at Mills, on Saturday February 8 (http://www.mills.edu/academics/graduate/eng/events_and_news/contemporary_writers_series.php). We will discuss Kathi Weeks's The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries, and Lauren Berlant's Cruel Optimism.
Participants are encouraged to read both works. However, if time is limited, it might be useful to concentrate on the following selections.
From The Problem With Work: Introduction, Chapter 3: “Working Demands: from Wages for Housework to Basic Income," the last section of Chapter 5: "From the Manifesto to the Utopian Demand" (pp. 218-225), and the Epilogue "A Life Beyond Work."
From Cruel Optimism: Introduction, the first section of Chapter 6: "Always Now: Situation, Gesture, Impasse" (pp. 191-200), Chapter 7: "On the Desire for the Political," and "Note on the Cover Image: If Body: Riva and Zora in Middle Age."
We also suggest reading some of the Wages for Housework communiqués, which can be found here: http://caringlabor.wordpress.com/category/housework/page/2/, particularly from Silvia Federici, here: http://caringlabor.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/silvia-federici-wages-against-housework/.
Readings are available here:
Some questions we might begin the conversation with…
Is it possible, as Weeks claims, that a demand can hold both reform and open a horizon of revolutionary possibility? Did Wages for Housework manage this? Could it, or a version of it? Is a better understanding of the attachments of cruel optimism helpful to formulating an antiwork revolutionary utopianism? Or does it derail? How might we reimagine an antiwork politics that does not reattach us to Berlant's "fantasies of the good life"?