Pr. John Paul Ricco: Bersani’s Incongruous Sociality

“Bersani’s Incongruous Sociality”

Professor John Paul Ricco (University of Toronto)

Monday 17th October 2022, 5.00 pm – 7.00 pm (Paris, France time).

Lecture: Professor John Paul Ricco’s (University of Toronto) ONLINE only

The event will be live streamed via zoom and registration is mandatory. Please register at this link,

Abstract: Bersani’s Incongruous Sociality

This talk considers Leo Bersani’s concept of “incongruity” as a key term in his thinking of ethical relation. Specifically, as a description of the desynchronized movement and impersonal configuration of bodies, psyches, thoughts, and things, in which the formal mobilization of aesthetic perceptions of sameness replace the immobilizing forces of desirous knowing and difference. Highlighted is the way in which sameness is not based on a single predicate of commonality, but instead obtains in similar forms of movement and/or stillness that inaugurate correspondences with others and the world. This sheds light on Bersani’s familiar notions of inaccurate replication and homo-narcissism within his broader exploration of potential intimacies pleasurably discovered via a sense of universal sameness as opposed to the often-murderous fixation on identity and difference.


BioJohn Paul Ricco is the author of The Logic of the Lure, and The Decision Between Us: art and ethics in the time of scenes, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Professor Ricco teaches Art History, Comparative Literature, and Visual Culture at the University of Toronto, where for the past three years he served as Associate Director of the Centre for Comparative Literature.

Ricco is a theorist working at the juncture of contemporary art, queer theory, and philosophy, most noted for his work on aesthetics and ethics; sexuality and intimacy; eco-aesthetics, and the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, and Leo Bersani.

Ricco recently coedited special issues of Parallax and Journal of Visual Culture—both on Jean-Luc Nancy—and is coediting with Jacques Khalip, a forthcoming issue of differences titled, “Syntax of Thought: On Leo Bersani.” With Austin Svedjan, he is co-editing an issue of Postmodern Culture on “Afterlives of the Anti-social.” Ricco is currently completing two books: Queer Finitude: essays on solitude, anonymity, and the common; and Extinction Aesthetics: meditations on the collective afterlife of things.

Dr Caroline Rusterholz: ‘It’s an excellent service for a lot of young people and a place of trust for them’. The clients and the shaping of Brook centres in Britain, 1964-1998

LARCA Gender & Sexuality Studies Seminar


24 October 2022, 17.00, salle 830 OdG

Zoom link :

Meeting ID: 880 0371 6018

Passcode: 425026

Speaker: Dr Caroline Rusterholz (University of Cambridge/The Graduate Institute, Geneva (IHEID)

‘It’s an excellent service for a lot of young people and a place of trust for them’. The clients and the shaping of Brook centres in Britain, 1964-1998.
 In a 1967 article published in the Birmingham Post, a young couple shared its experience at the Brook Advisory Centre, the first centres to provide contraceptive advice for young people in postwar Britain. The ‘girl’ 21, engaged, explained that she was sleeping with her fiancée since she was 16. She mentioned that she had had ‘a major scare’ and phoned a FPA clinic for help. She was told they could see her, provided that she was getting married in the coming 3 months. Since she wouldn’t, they directed her to BAC. The girl reckoned that she was ‘apprehensive’ before phoning BAC but was amazed by the reaction on the other side of line; she was asked about the urgency of her needs. The young girl thought this question was again connected to her marital status and replied that she was engaged. The receptionist then clarified what she meant ‘We’re not concerned with whether you have a steady relationship or not’. The client thought ‘that was marvellous: they were concerned with your needs, your real needs, and not to sit in judgement on your morals’. First opened in 1964 in London for the 16-25 years old unmarried, with other openings quickly following in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol and Cambridge, to name a few, the Brook Advisory centres’ aims were ‘the prevention and the mitigation of the suffering caused by unwanted pregnancy and illegal abortion by educating young persons in matter[s] of sex and contraception and developing among them a sense of responsibility in regard to sexual behaviours. As a charity, but one which had close connection with the NHS, BAC constitutes an interesting lens through which to explore young people’s experience with sexual health services. Drawing on archival material, mass media, teenage magazine, and oral histories with former clients of BAC, this talk will assess whether young clients influenced and informed sexual health policy. In particular, I will explore the extent to which their needs were met in practice and cases where young people’s agency was restricted.

Speaker biography: Caroline Rusterholz is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. Her work brings an interdisciplinary, transnational and feminist approach to major problems in the social history of medicine and the history of reproductive politics. She has published two books, Deux enfants c’est deja pas mal, Famille et fecondite en Suisse, 1955-1970, (Antipodes, 2017) and Women’s medicine, Sex, Family planning and British female doctors in transnational perspective (1920-1970), (MUP, 2020). Her third book, Shaping Sexual Behaviour in the Young: The Brook Advisory Centres, 1960s-1990s is under contract with OUP. In January, she will join the Graduate Institute in Geneva as an Assistant Professor in International History and Politics thanks to an Eccellenza Fellowship to carry her new research project, Race and Sexual and Reproductive Health Charities in postwar Britain, which also won an ERC starting grant.