Couples: A Collective Life.

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    • Abstract:
      This creative-critical essay tells the collective life story of couples, by drawing together memoir and other texts (film, art, photography, biographical fragments) and social observation. It is inspired by two things: the 'immersive coupledom' (Laura Kipnis's term) enforced by the Covid lockdowns; and a series of recent essaycum-memoirs that have explored the experience either of being single or being in a couple. These books note the resilience of 'the couple norm' even as feminist and LGBTQ+ movements have challenged other societal norms. My essay also examines my own life as a single man, but tangentially, by considering its opposite: coupledom. Unpacking the unquestioned norm of coupledom is, I argue, a way of thinking about the hidden strangeness of our mundane lives--how love and care get routinised, and how the stories we tell about human relationships become true by default. But I also suggest that coupledom can't just be reduced to a story, a heteronormative convention. A couple is, like the human beings who comprise it, a beautiful, maddening, undeterminable mess. Every couple is a social invention, but also a one-off, an anomaly, a dataset of one. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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