Control Societies Speaker Series: Kara Keeling, University of Chicago

"An Empiricism that Invites Surprises"
Logo of the Control Societies speaker series
27 Jan 2020 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Annenberg School, Room 500

Share Facebook Twitter

About the Talk

In this talk, Kara Keeling will discuss how “an empiricism that invites surprises” might work as a mode of knowledge production. She will expand upon the ideas offered at the end of her book, Queer Times, Black Futures, where she writes, “In the context of the algorithms and relations characteristic of finance, poetic knowledge returns the body to the living organism and upends the rationale for the violences of finance capital. It prefers not to. By introducing desire and the senses into knowledge production, it disrupts the common, habitual relations of signification that allow for prediction and reconciliation between things. It insists that how we come to know what we know is as significant as what we know, and, in these ways, it provides a queer way of knowing that flies in the face of calculation and commensuration …"

This talk is co-sponsored by Penn's Cinema and Media Studies department.

About Kara Keeling

Kara Keeling is Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Keeling's research has focused on African American film, theories of race, sexuality, and gender in cinema, critical theory, and cultural studies. Current research involves issues of temporality, media, and black and queer cultural politics; digital media, globalization, and difference; and Gilles Deleuze and liberation theory.

Keeling's book, The Witch's Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Duke University Press, 2007), explores the role of cinematic images in the construction and maintenance of hegemonic conceptions of the world and interrogates the complex relationships between cinematic visibility, minority politics, and the labor required to create and maintain alternative organizations of social life. She is co-editor (with Colin MacCabe and Cornel West) of a selection of writings by the late James A. Snead entitled European Pedigrees/ African Contagions: Racist Traces and Other Writing and author of several articles that have appeared in the journals Qui ParleThe Black ScholarWomen and Performance, and elsewhere.

Prior to joining the faculty at USC, Keeling worked as an assistant professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), an adjunct assistant Professor of Women's Studies at Duke University, and a visiting assistant professor of Art and Africana Studies at Williams College. At UNC, she was a Spray-Randleigh Fellow and a Fellow at the Institute for Arts and Humanities. She also held a Carolina Postdoctoral Fellowship for two years after graduating with a Ph.D. in Critical and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh's Film Studies Program in the Department of English. In the summer of 2005, Keeling participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on African Cinema in Dakar, Senegal.

Keeling currently serves on the editorial boards of the journals Cultural Studies and Feminist Media Studies and is the Editor of the Moving Image Review section of Gay and Lesbian Quarterly (GLQ).

About Control Societies Speaker Series

Control Societies was started as part of the School of Social Policy & Practice’s initiative on Culture, Society, and Critical Policy Studies in order to feature and engage cutting edge scholarship on the enumerating acts of governmentality in computational culture and the incalculable possibilities of justice. For the 2019/2020 academic year, the School of Social Policy & Practice will continue its speaker series in partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication, which produces scholarship on the social, cultural, economic, and political implications of digital information and communication technologies, networks, and systems. Through the speaker series, the organizers aim to explore the philosophical foundations of algorithms, data, and their intersections with governmentality, surveillance, social policy, and the reconfiguring of power relations.

Future lectures include:

  • February 17: Stephanie Dinkins, Stony Brook University
  • March 23: Denise Ferreira da Silva, University of British Columbia
  • March 30: Jasbir Puar, Rutgers University

For more information, visit

Additional funding is provided by the Provost's Excellence Through Diversity Fund.

This event may be photographed and/or video recorded for archival, educational, and related promotional purposes. We also video stream many of these video recordings through the Annenberg web site. By attending or participating in this event, you are giving your consent to be photographed and/or video recorded and you are waiving any and all claims regarding the use of your image by the Annenberg School for Communication. The Annenberg School for Communication, at its discretion, may provide a copy of the photos/footage upon written request.