Session One | Viral Realism, Junk & Anarchy

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Image credit: Book cover detail, Por Intharapalit, Chao Sao Phi Krasue (เจ้าสาวผีกระสือ; Krasue Bride) (Saeng Dao, 2002).


Brought to you by the University of Oxford Medical Humanities Programme & e-flux Live

Session One: Viral Realism, Junk & Anarchy

Thursday 23 March 2023, 16.00 -17.30 UK time

12pm New York, 9am Los Angeles

This event is free and all are welcome

Watch the recording here.

Viruses have lurked on the margins of cultural theory ever since Deleuze and Guattari suggested that “our viruses make us form a rhizome with other creatures.” According to Patricia Clough and Jasbir Puar, in the age of the internet virality became “a form of communication and transmission across various domains: the biological, the cultural, the financial, the political, the linguistic, the technical, and computational.” In recent years, however, viral theory in the humanities and social sciences hasn’t kept pace with the scientific initiatives starting to peek into the virosphere’s vast unknown realms. Last year Eben Kirksey published a special issue of e-flux journal on Viral Theory that seeks to reckon with the multitude of invisible viral agents waiting to disrupt, detour, and reroute established modes of life. 

Contributors to the Viral Theory collection of essays will enter into conversation with Povinelli, who engages with the virus as the popular cultural figure of the zombie-Life turned to Nonlife and transformed into a new kind of species war – the aggressive rotting undead against the last redoubt of Life. Over the course of two days, we will engage with ideas about symbiotic and therapeutic viruses, as well as viral processes that disrupt debates about Life and Nonlife.

Session One: Thursday 23 March 2023, 16.00pm - 17.30pm

Session Two: Friday 24 March 2023, 13.30pm - 15.00am

Session Three: Friday 24 March, 15.30pm - 16.30pm


Host: Eben Kirksey (University of Oxford), Discussant: Julieta Aranda (e-flux), Participants: Celia Lowe (University of Washington),  Rachel Vaughn (UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics), and Caitlin Berrigan (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna) 

We will discuss three papers in Session One: The Viral Real by Celia Lowe, Viral Junk by Rachel Vaughn, and Kinship is Anarchy by Caitlin Berrigan. 


Read the Viral Theory essays online. 

For further information please contact S. Eben Kirksey,


Medical Humanities Programme

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