About Me

Sara, age 8

I am Sara “Problematizer” Puotinen and I like to make and stay in trouble.

A few years ago, I found my kindergarten report card. My teacher’s first comment (above) seemed very fitting to add in my description of myself. Sara is a sweet child but needs to work on self-control. Much of this blog is inspired by and in resistance to this statement and the various ways that working on “self-control” was really about getting me to “stop asking questions,” “stop being curious,” and “stop making and being trouble!”

Email me at: sara@room34.com

And check out my collection of online spaces:

7 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. hello there,

    am glad you’ve found my book, and hope [sic!]
    you find in it something of use.

    happy july to you
    from rainy, rainy canada,

  2. Hello,

    Thanks for commenting. I am very excited to read your book. Like I said (or tried to convey) in my post, I really appreciate your approach and look forward to reading–and maybe talking with you?–about it!

    happy july to you too
    from in-desperate-need-of-more-rain minnesota,

  3. Hi,
    My name is Rachel and I am a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies student at Washington University in St. Louis. I just found your post about Jay Prosser’s response to Butler’s treatment of individuals such as Venus Xtravaganza after reading his article for class this week. I was just wondering what you think the best way to discuss subjects like Venus is, as it is important to retain their agency/embodiment while still being able to form theory from these cases. How can we strike a balance?

  4. Hi Rachel. Thanks for your question and for checking out my blog! Your question is a difficult one to answer (and one that I struggle with as I think about my own interest in making and being in trouble). While I can’t imagine a best way in which to discuss subjects like Venus, I can think of some important parts of the process, including: a. always paying attention to the context and the concrete, material experiences of the individuals being discussed and b. treating the individuals as subjects–with agency and their own voices–instead of as objects to be scrutinized, studied and used to prove points.

    I was particularly interested in Prosser’s critique against Butler because I often think about what it means to promote making and staying in trouble–while these practices can be productive for some, they can be extremely dangerous for others. In the case of Venus, embodying trouble resulted in her death. How can I navigate between the dangerous and potentially beneficial consequences of making trouble? Perhaps the important point here is not to stop thinking about the value of troublemaking (or how studying Venus’ experience might raise some important critical questions), but to always think about that troublemaking in relation to specific practices and consequences. Both Prosser and Viviane Namaste in Invisible Lives suggest that Butler fails to do this–in making Venus an allegory, Butler makes her actual life invisible. Hope that helps!

  5. I just read your post about including Lee Edelman in your syllabus for the fall. It would be very easy to to put Halberstam into dialogue with Edelman (since Edelman reminded you of Halberstam) because Halberstam has written multiple critiques of Edelman over the past few years (and Bersani who is a major influence on Edelman) in relation to his anti-social, anti-futurity queer polemic. I believe Judith Butler fits in nicely when you consider her writings in Undoing Gender (2004), especially because in this text she is interested in articulating–or at least calling for–a feminist discourse of the present that is looking towards the future and interested in dismantling or, at the very least,resisting “the human” in order to celebrate gender/sexual differences (specifically individuals who are seen as non-human, sub-human, etc). I think “the human” is wrapped up in the sort reproductive futurism Lee Edelman writes about.

    Just some suggestions. Good luck with your syllabus if you have not already finished it.

  6. Hello there,
    I agree with David. Putting Edelman and Butler into dialogue through “the human” and “inhuman” is a good starting point. You know, Butler talks about ‘cultural conventions,’ and enlarging the domain of the human(e) whereas Edelman argues to fight for the inhuman(e) by disrupting the social reality.

  7. Hi SLP,

    I would have contacted you personally but couldn’t find your email address – I was wondering whether you could give me some advice on literature regarding a queer ethics/queer pedagogy-theme. You seem well-read in that field… I’m at uni in Berlin, Germany, and intending to write a paper, possibly a thesis, on the matter.

    I would be very thankful for your advice! 🙂 If you would like to give it, do write me an email to antipastifredi att web.de and I will tell you a bit more about what I have in mind.


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