Georges Bataille in the 1930s: towards an anti-fascist syphilitic vision

  • 5pm - 5.45pm

  • Online

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Hailey Maxwell (University of Glasgow)

Throughout the entirety of Georges Bataille’s terrain of thought, threads of madness, trauma, sexuality and disfigurement are developed within a network of recurring metaphors which denote ocular atrophy and the castration of the eye and are indicative of a preoccupation with formative events in his early life. This paper seeks to contextualise Bataille’s apophatic methodological approach and theory of vision developed in the interwar period in terms of both his personal life and his political resistance to right-wing rhetoric of the 1930s which linked the public health quandary caused by venereal disease to moral decline, transgressive sexuality, immigration and political crisis.


Hailey Maxwell is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow researching the collaborative experiments of Georges Bataille in the interwar period as instrumental to the development of the atheology announced by his unfinished project La Somme athéologique. In 2014, she graduated from the University of Glasgow’s Art; Politics; Transgression: 20th Century Avant-Gardes MLitt program, winning the Andrew Millar Prize for History for her dissertation 'Metaphor and Myth: Georges Bataille and André Masson 1929-1938.'