Laura Kipnis

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Laura Kipnis is a cultural critic and essayist whose work focuses on sexual politics, gender issues, aesthetics, popular culture, and pornography. She began her career as a video artist, exploring similar themes in the form of video essays.[1] She is a professor at Northwestern University in the Department of Radio-TV-Film, where she teaches film-making.

Kipnis earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She also studied at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Studio Program. She has received fellowships for her work from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Michigan Society of Fellows,[2] and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In her 2003 book Against Love: A Polemic, a "ragingly witty yet contemplative look at the discontents of domestic and erotic relationships, Kipnis combines portions of the slashing sexual contrarianism of Mailer, the scathing antidomestic wit of early Roseanne Barr and the coolly analytical aesthetics of early Sontag." Publisher's Weekly (30 June 2003).

Her 2010 book, How to Become a Scandal, focuses on scandal: "shattered lives, downfall, disgrace and ruin, the rage of the community directed at its transgressors." McCarthy, Ellen (26 September 2010). "Laura Kipnis's "How to Become a Scandal," Washington Post".  "What allows for scandal in Kipnis’s schema is every individual’s blind spot, “a little existential joke on humankind (or in some cases, a ticking time bomb) nestled at the core of every lonely consciousness... Ostensibly about scandal, her book is most memorable as a convincing case for the ultimate unknowability of the self." Dominus, Susan, New York Times (26 September, 2010)

Her critical essays and reviews have appeared in Slate, Harper's, Playboy, The New York Times, Bookforum, and elsewhere.


In Spring 2015 Kipnis wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education in which she decried a prevailing "sexual paranoia" on campuses and discussed professor-student sexual relationships and trigger warnings.[3] A group of students at Northwestern protested, demanding that the administration reaffirm its commitment to the policies that Kipnis criticized.[4] Protesters carried a mattress in reference to Emma Sulkowicz's earlier protest at Columbia University.[5] Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal mentioning the episode and enunciating a preference for maximum speech in such conflicted situations.[6] Invoking Title IX, two graduate students filed a complaint with Northwestern against her, arguing that her essay had had a "chilling effect" on students' ability to report sexual misconduct; Northwestern exonerated her. [7]

Select Bibliography[edit]





  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Kipnis, 27 February 2015
  4. ^ Goldberg, 16 March 2015
  5. ^ Mead, 6 April 2015
  6. ^ Morton, 18 March 2015
  7. ^


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