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 filmmaking.

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."[3]

In 2010 she published How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior, which focused on scandal, including those of Eliot Spitzer, Linda Tripp, James Frey, Sol Wachtler, and Lisa Nowak; the book examined "the elaborate ways those transgressors reassure themselves that they are not bringing colossal ruin upon themselves, that their dalliances will never see the light of day".[4] "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".[5]

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


In March 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.[6] A group of students at Northwestern protested, demanding that the administration reaffirm its commitment to the policies that Kipnis criticized.[7] Protesters carried a mattress in reference to Emma Sulkowicz's earlier protest at Columbia University.[8] In an opinion column for The Wall Street Journal, Northwestern University president Morton O. Schapiro referred to the protest and argued for maximum speech in such conflicted situations.[9] Invoking Title IX, two graduate students filed complaints with Northwestern's Title IX office against Kipnis, arguing that her essay had had a "chilling effect" on students' ability to report sexual misconduct. Kipnis revealed the charges and details of the investigation in an essay titled "My Title IX Inquisition," including the fact that her faculty support person had himself been brought up on Title IX complaints over public statements about her case. Northwestern eventually exonerated her, after a 72-day investigation[10] Title IX complaints were also filed against Northwestern's President Schapiro over his Wall Street Journal column.,[11] but eventually dropped.

Select bibliography




  • "Girl, Interrupted". Village Voice. 16 March 1999.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Lust and Disgust: A Short History of Prudery, Feminist and Otherwise". Harper's Magazine. 315 (1, 888): 87–91. September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "School for Scandal: The Larger Meaning of the Sordid Little Tale". Harper's Magazine. 318 (1, 906): 73–77. March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Pushing The Limits: Why Is Contemporary Art Addicted to Violence?". New York Times Book Review. 14 July 2011. p. 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Amazing Disgrace". Bookforum. September–November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "I Mean It". New York Times Book Review. 12 August 2012. p. 17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Death by Self-Parody". Bookforum. December 2011 – January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Crazy in Love". Bookforum. April–May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Me, Myself, and Id: The Invention of the Narcissist". Harper's Magazine. 329 (1, 971): 76–81. August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Marry by 30". Slate. 9 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  3. Publisher's Weekly (30 June 2003).
  4. McCarthy, Ellen (26 September 2010). "Laura Kipnis's "How to Become a Scandal"". Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Susan Dominus (September 24, 2010). "They Did What?". New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kipnis, 27 February 2015
  7. Goldberg, 16 March 2015
  8. Mead, 6 April 2015
  9. Morton, 18 March 2015
  10. Read, Brock (31 May 2015). "Laura Kipnis Is Cleared of Wrongdoing in Title IX Complaints". Chronicle of Higher Education.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Wilson, Robin (4 June 2015). "For Northwestern, the Kipnis Case Is Painful and Personal". Chronicle of Higher Education.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Goldberg, Michelle (16 March 2015). "The Laura Kipnis Melodrama". The Nation.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Juffer, Jane (1998). At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life. New York: NYU Press. ISBN 0814742378.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mead, Rebecca (6 April 2015). "Two Beds and the Burdens of Feminism". The New Yorker.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Schapiro, Morton (18 March 2015). "The New Face of Campus Unrest". The Wall Street Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links