You are here: Home / News & Events / Comp Lit Luncheon Series / Comp Lit Luncheon Archive

Comp Lit Luncheon Archive

"Carmen in Harlem", Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas

Jennifer M. Wilks is an Associate Professor in English and in African and African Diaspora Studies; she is also an affiliate of the Program in Comparative Literature. She is the author of Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism: Suzanne Lacascade, Marita Bonner, Suzanne Césaire, Dorothy West (Louisiana State UP, 2008), which explores the gendered constructs and legacies of the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude movements. Her essays have appeared in African-American Review, Callaloo, Modern Fiction Studies, and, most recently, in the edited collection Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem (U of Minnesota P, 2013). Her translation (French to English) of the 19th-century French and Swiss diaries of African American activist Mary Church Terrell was recently published, and she is currently at work on two book projects: a history of transpositions of the Carmen story set in African diasporic contexts and a study of representations of race and apocalypse in contemporary literature and culture. She spent spring 2013 as a visiting professor in the Département du Monde Anglophone at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3 and in 2013-2014 served as co-director of the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS), whose theme was “Reading Race in Literature and Film.” 
When Nov 07, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

"Vernacular Politics, Anglophone Prose: the Early Days of the Indian Novel in English", Snehal A. Shingavi, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas

Snehal Shingavi is associate professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of The Mahatma Misunderstood: the politics and forms of literary nationalism in India (Anthem Books, 2013).  He has also translated Munshi Premchand’s Hindi novel, Sevasadan (Oxford, 2005), the Urdu short-story collection, Angaaray (Penguin, 2014), and Bhisham Sahni’s autobiography, Today’s Pasts (Penguin, 2015).  He has a forthcoming translation of Agyeya’s novel, Shekhar: A Life, 2 vols. (Penguin, 2017).
When Oct 31, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

"The Rise of the Surface: Cartography, Poetics, and Visual Art across the Early Modern World (France, Germany, Poland)", Katharina Piechocki, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University

Katharina N. Piechocki is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She holds a PhD. in Comparative Literature from New York University (2013) for a thesis on “Cartographic Humanism” and a doctorate in Romance Languages from Vienna University (2009) on the origin of the opera libretto. In 2015-16, Katharina was a Distinguished Junior External Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, where she was completing her first book manuscript, “Cartographic Humanism: Defining Early Modern Europe, 1480-1580.” In spring 2017, she will be a scholar in residence at the IFK (Internationales Forschungsinstitut für Kulturwissenschaften) in Vienna, Austria. At Harvard, Katharina is the co-chair (together with Tom Conley) of the Cartography Seminar at the Mahindra Humanities Center.
When Oct 24, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

“Proletarian Intimacies: The North Korean Art and Literature of War” Theodore Hughes, Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Korean Studies in the Humanities, Columbia University

Theodore Hughes is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Korean Studies in the Humanities and Director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University. He is the author of Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea: Freedom’s Frontier (Columbia University Press, 2012), which was awarded the Association for Asian Studies James B. Palais Book Prize. He is the co-editor of Intermedial Aesthetics: Korean Literature, Film, and Art (special issue of the Journal of Korean Studies, 2015); the co-editor of Rat Fire: Korean Stories from the Japanese Empire (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013); and the translator of Panmunjom and Other Stories by Lee Ho-Chul (Norwalk: EastBridge, 2005).
When Oct 17, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

"English Lyric Poetry, Medieval to Early Modern", Seth Lerer, Distinguished Professor of Literature, University of California at San Diego

Seth Lerer (born 1955) is Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego, where he served as Dean of Arts and Humanities from 2009 to 2014. He had previously held the Avalon Foundation Professorship in Humanities at Stanford University. Lerer specializes in historical analyses of the English language, in addition to critical analyses of the works of Medieval and Renaissance authors, particularly Geoffrey Chaucer. He is the author of eight scholarly books, most recently Prospero's Son: Life, Books, Love, and Theater (University of Chicago Press, 2013). Lerer won the 2010 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism for Children’s Literature: A Readers’ History from Aesop to Harry Potter. He is currently the M. H. Abrams Distinguished Visiting Professor in English at Cornell University.
When Oct 10, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

"This Moment of Manumission: Representing Exceptional Blackness in Claudia Rankine's Citizen and Marvel Comics' Captain America", Jonathan Gray, Associate Professor of English, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Jonathan W. Gray is Associate Professor of English at John Jay College-CUNY. He is the editor of the Journal of Comics and Culture and the author of Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination (University Press of Mississippi, 2013). Gray is currently working on the book project Illustrating the Race: Representing Blackness in American Comics, which traces depictions of African Americans in comics from 1966 to the present, for Columbia University Press. He has published academic articles on Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, Kyle Baker’s graphic novel Nat Turner, Jay Z’s relationship to Black masculinity, and Trayvon Martin in popular culture. His journalism on comics and popular culture has appeared at EW.com, Salon.com, and The New Inquiry.
When Oct 03, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Graduate Research Roundtable

When Sep 26, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

"Privately Empowered: African-Islamic Feminism in Northern Nigerian Fiction," Shirin Edwin, Sam Houston State University

When Apr 25, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: My talk is based on my forthcoming book entitled Privately Empowered: Expressing Feminism in Islam in Northern Nigerian Fiction (Northwestern University Press, 2016). It responds to the lack of adequate attention Islam in Africa receives in comparison to Islam in the Middle East and the Arab world. I attribute this neglect to the tight embrace between Islam and politics that has rendered Islamic feminist discourse historically and thematically contextualized in regions where Islamic feminism evolves in concert with the nation-state, and many struggles for legal reforms, activism or social affiliations. In Africa itself, Islam bears the burden of being a “foreign” presence that is considered inimical to African Muslim women’s success. Bridging the blind spots in both African and Islamic feminist theories, I forward the term, African-Islamic feminism, to compel attention to African Muslim women’s private engagement with Islam in potent depictions by three relatively unknown Nigerian novelists, Zaynab Alkali, Hauwa Ali and Abubakar Gimba, due to the texts’ emphases on Muslim women’s personal and private engagements with Islamic ritual and prayer in the quotidian. Such rituals as prayer and the observance of Qur’anic injunctions—Islamic monotheism (shahādah), prayer (ṣalāt and dua), Islamic virtue (akhlāq), among others—privately inculcated for personal fulfillment, regionally and thematically validate those underexplored forms of Islamic feminism whose objectives fall outside the purview of public activity, commonly manifested in activism or in affiliations to organizations.  I conclude that the spiritual universe of African Muslim women may be one where Islam is not the source of their problems or their legislative and political activity, but a spiritual activity that can exist devoid of activist or political forms.

Bio: Shirin Edwin is an associate professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Her work focuses on Islam in African literatures.

"Neo-Confucian Ethics and Spirit of World Order: A Comparative Study of Tolerance ," Ming Dong Gu, University of Texas, Dallas

When Apr 18, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: Faced with world-wide crises today, the value system based on liberalism has proven to be inadequate on a global scale. There has appeared an urgent need to approach the global predicaments from the perspective of common ethics. In 1993, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions issued a Declaration: “Toward a Global Ethic,” signed by more than 200 leaders from over 40 different faith traditions and spiritual communities. It unequivocally declares: “No new global order without a new global ethic!” This truism lead us to ask: in the construction of a new world order, what moral principle or categorical imperative in Kantian terms can we find in ethical systems of the world which may serve as the spirit of a new world order? This article argues that the Confucian way of tolerance is perhaps a suitable choice because tolerance is now acknowledged as one of the spiritual achievements of modern times and may hold the ethical key to regulating human differences and resolving conflicts involving class, race, religion, nation and culture.  The idea of tolerance is found in all cultural and spiritual traditions, but it is in Confucianism that it was elevated to a moral virtue, a way of life, an ethical theory, and to the exalted status of Tao (恕道) two millennia ago and has remained so since. This article will compare the ideas of tolerance in various traditions, examine the extent to which the Confucian way of tolerance transcends the limitations of regional religions and spiritual faiths, and explore how it may be modernized into the cornerstone of a universal ethics underlying the inner spirit of a new world order.

"On Anxiety: Striving, Failing, Muddling Along," Mari Ruti, University of Toronto

When Apr 11, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: This presentation combines insights from Lacan’s 1961-1962 seminar on anxiety with recent (feminist, queer, and affect theoretical) accounts of neoliberalism to analyze the contemporary Western phenomenon of pervasive anxiety. In his commentary on anxiety, Lacan repeatedly (and humorously) refers to the straight male subject’s sexual anxiety in the face of his female partner’s seemingly infinite capacity for jouissance: the fact that the phallus always falls short of the phallocentric ideal, faltering at the very moment of delivery. Keeping in mind that for Lacan the phallus is ultimately a signifier without a real-life referent––so that women can also aspire to phallic mastery––Lacan’s depiction of “premature detumenescence” seems like an apt metaphor for the predicament of the neoliberal subject whose hunger for self-actualization, accomplishment, and satisfaction (the good life) tends to exceed its capacities, with the result that anxiety is, for many, the status quo of everyday life in today’s society. What are the cultural forces that produce this predicament? Why is it so difficult to get out of? Are there any antidotes to it? And might anxiety even have something to offer even as it derails our quest for a balanced life?

Bio: Mari Ruti is professor of critical theory at the University of Toronto. She is the author of ten books, most recently Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics (Bloomsbury Press, 2015) and The Ethics of Opting Out: Defiance and Affect in Queer Theory (Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2016).

"Forms of Unevenness: Latin America and the Novel 'New World Time'," Emilio Sauri, University of Massachusetts, Boston

When Apr 04, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: This talk attempts to understand what “the contemporary” has meant to the novel, and in turn should mean, for comparative studies of the novel. I take the contemporary Latin American novel as a test case, and argue for reading it in relation recent transformations in the political configuration of the world-system. No doubt the novel in Latin America has long exhibited an acute awareness of the manner in which relations within what Pascale Casanova calls “world literary space” reflect and often contest unevenly developed relations within that system. Yet, Casanova’s study extends only to a period in which the emergence of peripheral literatures had not only been marked by this awareness, but also tasked with addressing and even compensating for such unevenness. This is the period, in other words, when the accumulation of literary capital approximated the ideology of modernization—a desire for a form of modernity spurred on and, at the same time, circumscribed by the unevenly developed flows of global capital.

What happens to the novel, then, when the conditions of possibility for social and economic modernization within the formerly developing world have been radically altered—if not altogether eliminated—by a deepening crisis in the world economic system? This is an historical shift, which, beginning in the 1970s, would eventually give rise to what the Brazilian philosopher Paulo Arantes describes as “o novo tempo do mundo,” or “new world time,” in which “the very modern notion of progress—and the temporality of history that made it thinkable” is neutralized. I hold that in reading recent works by authors like César Aira, Pola Oloixarac, Nicolás Cabral, and Roberto Bolaño, we can see that how this “novo tempo do mundo” has altered the Latin American novel’s sense of the present to reflect something like a development without developmentalism on the level of narrative. Viewed from this perspective, the question of the contemporary not only calls for a modification of comparative approaches to the study of the novel—as exemplified by Casanova, as well as critics like Fredric Jameson, Roberto Schwarz, and Franco Moretti—but also raises new questions about the political horizon of literature today.

Bio: Emilio Sauri is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature and visual art from the U.S. and Latin America, and reads these in relation to the development of the world-system. He has co-edited a collection of essays titled Literary Materialisms (Palgrave, 2013) with Mathias Nilges, along with a special issue of nonsite with Eugenio Di Stefano, and his work has appeared in MLN, Studies in American Fiction, and Twentieth-Century Literature. He is currently at work on a book project on literature and the ends of autonomy in the Americas.

"The Dulles Plan for Russia: Soviet Literature, Conspiracy Theories, and the Anthropology of Morality," Alexander Panchenko, Russian Academy of Sciences

When Mar 28, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: Conspiracy theories are a powerful explanatory model, or way of thinking, that
influences many cultural forms and social processes throughout the contemporary
world. Generally defined as “the conviction that a secret, omnipotent individual or
group covertly controls the political and social order or some part thereof,”
conspiracy theories include a number of principal ideas and concepts that make
them adaptable to broad variety of discourses and forms of collective imagination.
Proceeding from the necessity to explain and localize evil as a social and moral
category, conspiracy theories produce ethical models that oppose ‘us’ to ‘them’,
‘victims’ to ‘enemies’, ‘heroes’ to ‘anti-heroes’. At the same time, conspiracy theories
are extremely teleological; they do not leave any room for coincidences and
accidents and explain all facts and events as related to intentional and purposeful
activities of ‘evil actors.’ Quite often, conspiracy theories are grounded in holistic
worldviews that lead, in turn, to particular hermeneutic styles. Reality is always
considered to be deceptive; ‘simple’, ‘superficial’, and ‘obvious.’ Explanations must
give place to more complicated intellectual procedures aimed at a disclosure of
‘concealed truth’. From this perspective, the concept of mystery appears to be the
most powerful element of conspiratorial narratives. Conspiracy theories often
motivate political action and social praxis, accompany transformation of institutional
and informational networks, provoke moral panics, and changes of identities.
This talk will focus on continuity of Soviet conspiratorial ideas and narratives in post-Soviet
Russia. What ‘performative shifts’ of late Soviet discourse were adopted and transformed by
‘communities of loss’ in the 1990s and 2000s? Why did conservative nationalism of the
1970s become so significant for Russian popular culture forty years later? What messages
are encoded by the symbolic language of moral panics and conspiracy theories related to the
‘imaginary West’ in the late Soviet and post-Soviet Russian society? These questions can be
at least partly answered by an analysis of the so called Dulles Plan for Russia, a
conspiratorial forgery based on borrowings from the novel Vechnyi Zov (the Eternal
Call, 1971–76) by the Soviet writer Anatoliy Ivanov. The talk deals with its history,
ideological contexts and popular reception in present day Russia.

Bio: Alexander A. Panchenko is Director of the Research Center for Literary Theory and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Institute of Russian Literature, Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg, Russia), a Professor of Social Anthropology at St. Petersburg State University (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), and the Director of the Center for Anthropology of Religion at the European University at St. Petersburg.  His research interests include religious folklore and vernacular religion in Russia and Europe, theory and history of folklore research, contemporary folklore and popular culture, and anthropological approaches to the study of Russian literature.  He has published more than 100 research works (including two books) in Russian and other European languages on vernacular religion in rural Russia; religious movements in modern Russia; the political use of folklore in the Soviet Union, and comparative studies in folklore and the anthropology of religion.

"So Say We All: The Fiction of World Science Fiction," Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin College

When Mar 21, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: Environmental change and disaster.  The evolution and fate of the human race.  Understanding the Other (gender, race, sexuality, class, belief, the alien).  The ethics of technoscience.  The possibility of space and/or time travel.  Issues of extra-Terran colonization and colonialism.  Future world wars.  Dystopias and utopias.  What/where is reality?  What if X had happened, instead of Y?  In many of its questions and critiques the genre of science fiction (SF) is, per force, global.  Depending how you define SF and proto-SF, one can find beginning points with H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and even Dante and Lucian.  As a designated literary genre, however, SF began in the US in the 1920s; and it was the US, followed quickly by England, and predominantly by white men in both countries, whose perspective quickly came to dominate the field.  Elsewhere in the world, genre SF (literature, film, etc.) evolved at various moments from the mid-twentieth century on, at times in imitation of Anglophone SF, at times in conversation with it, and at times with a concerted effort to build a narrative set in and reflective of an author’s culture.  Dr. Saiber's talk will address this tension between the apparently “global” nature of SF and the inevitably “local” characteristics implicit within its production.  She will give an overview of the current state of “World Science Fiction” and then focus on one country’s production—a country few would ever associate with SF, and yet one with a significant output since the 1950s, and with notable local peculiarities: Italy."

Bio: Arielle Saber is Associate Professor of Italian, Bowdoin College (Ph.D., Italian Literature, Yale, 1999). She has published articles on medieval and early modern Italian literature; early modern mathematics, print history, and advice manuals; literature & science studies; genre theory and experimental electronic music; and Dante in contemporary culture. Her book Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language came out in 2005 (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate Press), and her co-edited anthology Images of Quattrocento Florence: Writings on Literature, History and Art in 2000 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).  She has also co-edited special issues of Configurations (“Mathematics and the Imagination”), Dante Studies, and California Italian Studies.

"Unnatural Narratives in Contemporary Chinese Time Travel Fiction," Biwu Shang, Shanghai Jiaotong University

When Mar 14, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: The first decade of the twenty-first century witnessed an upsurge and a flourishing of time travel fiction in China, which is physically, logically, and/or humanly impossible. The boom of this new narrative genre has been fueled in no small part by the so-called “postmodernist turn” coupled with the “historiographical turn”, to the degree that it is no longer possible to read it along the lines of traditional narrative theory. With contemporary Chinese time travel fiction as its central concern, this article pursues four major goals: 1) to uncover its dominant unnatural patterns and means of time travel, 2) to reveal its unnaturalness from such perspectives as metalepsis, prolepsis, self-contradictory narration, and multiperson narration, 3) to examine its consequences and values of being unnatural, and 4) to offer a way of naturalizing it by suggesting the intersection of unnatural narratology with ethical narratology.

Bio: Biwu Shang is a Distinguished Research Fellow of English at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, editor of Frontiers of Narrative Studies. His areas of research include narrative theory, ethical literary criticism, and contemporary Anglo-American fiction. He is the author of two critical monographs (In Pursuit of Narrative Dynamics, 2011; Contemporary Western Narratology: Postclassical Perspectives, 2013). His writings were published or are forthcoming in such journals as Style, Journal of Literary Semantics, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, Semiotica, Neohelicon, Primerjalna Književnost, and arcadia: International Journal of Literary Studies.

"Marginocentric Afterlives of Bruno Schulz and the Migration of Forms," Adam Zachary Newton, Yeshiva University

When Feb 29, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: The third millennium dawned for Polish modernist Bruno Schulz (1898-1942) with a remarkable instance of scission and damaged contiguity. Almost certainly his last creative works, nursery murals that Schulz had painted for a Gestapo officer’s villa were discovered and then spirited out of Drohobycz in several fragments.  Transported to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem with a portion left in situ in Ukraine, they now endure an uncannily ruptured afterlife in unintended echo of what Schulz celebrated mythopoeically as 'the migration of forms.' That this fate also echoes a series of transpositions and appropriations undergone by the biographical figure of Schulz himself across the border of the late 20th and early 21st century prose fiction makes the episode especially uncanny. In this talk, we will consider an unlikely epilogue of artist/artifact transit across the boundaries of nation, language, and cultural heritage.

Bio: Dr. Adam Zachary Newton is University Professor and Ronald P. Stanton Chair in Literature and the Humanities at Yeshiva University and former chair of the Yeshiva College English department. He did his graduate work in literature and philosophy at Harvard University, and in addition to his many articles, essays, and plenary talks, has published five books under the general rubric of the ethics of reading in the areas of Narrative Theory, American Studies, Modern Jewish Thought, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies. He is now at work on a sixth monograph on the subject of Jewish Studies and the academic Humanities.

"Enlightened Exoticism? Lady Anne Barnard at the Cape of Good Hope, 1797-1802," Greg Clingham, Bucknell University/Bucknell University Press

When Feb 22, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: Lady Anne Lindsay Barnard (1750-1825) was the wife of a colonial administrator at the Cape of Good Hope, 1797-1802, under the governorship of Sir George Macartney and Sir George Yonge. The object of merely sentimental interest till the 1990s, critical attention to her letters, diaries and watercolours reveals the engagement of a subtle, sceptical, and creative mind whose work and wit offer remarkable insights into life in the colony – standing at the crossroads of East and West at a crucial historical moment – and that raise questions about the relations between history, fiction and politics that continue to be relevant today.

Bio: Greg Clingham is the John P. Crozer Chair of English Literature and the Director of the University Press at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses on literature 1650-1850, and on a wide range of texts in their relations with law, history, East-West relations, the exotic, memory, translation, and landscape. He is the author of Johnson, Writing, and Memory (Cambridge, 2002) and also of many other books and essays on Johnson, Boswell, Dryden, and issues in historiography and translation.

"Beyond the Color Curtain: Cold War Networks and the Global South Imaginary," Anne Garland Mahler, University of Arizona

When Feb 15, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: The networked nature of politics today has led to a divergence from postcolonial and ethnic studies rubrics towards horizontalist approaches to cultural criticism like the Global South.  This talk details the cultural history of this horizontal turn through tracing the roots of the contemporary notion of the Global South to the ideology of a profoundly influential but largely elided cold war movement called the Tricontinental.  Mahler argues that this ideology, which was disseminated among the international Left through the Tricontinental’s expansive cultural production, revised a black Atlantic resistant subjectivity into a global vision of subaltern resistance that is resurfacing today.

Bio: Dr. Anne Garland Mahler is an assistant professor of Latin American cultural studies at the University of Arizona.  Her research interests include global south studies, black internationalism, and cold war politics, and her book manuscript is entitled The Color of Resistance: Race and Solidarity from the Tricontinental to the Global South.  Her second project, Men with Guns: Cultures of Paramilitarism in the Modern Americas, was awarded a 2015 Ford-LASA Special Projects Grant.  Mahler’s articles have appeared in Latin American Research Review; Small Axe: A Caribbean Platform for Criticism; Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies; and U.S. Latino(a) Studies.  

"Revolutionary Indians: Ramón Emerterio Betances & the Specters of 19th Century Caribbean Patriotism," Kahlil Chaar-Pérez, University of Pittsburgh

When Feb 08, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: This lecture will examine the revolutionary aesthetics and politics of the late-nineteenth-century Puerto Rican intellectual Ramón Emeterio Betances.  An under examined figure in Caribbean history, Betances stood out among the contemporary Hispanic Caribbean elite for his singular experiences of dislocation: he lived most of his life in France; he included Haiti within his vision of a Caribbean federation; and he was of African descent.   Focusing on his early romantic novella The Two Indians (1853) and his texts on Haiti, we will ask how Betances’s resignification of indigeneity and patriotism offer alternate routes to understanding the emergence of nationalist traditions in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. 

Bio: Kahlil Chaar-Pérez is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh through the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures. He specializes in Caribbean and Latin American modern and contemporary literatures and culture, recently co-edited a special issue of Discourse journal dedicated to Édouard Glissant, and is currently working on a book project about creole intellectuals, anticolonial politics, and visions of colonial crisis in nineteenth-century Cuba and Puerto Rico.

"Temporalities of Emergency: Literary Form and Counter-Insurgency in Twentieth-Century Jamacian Fiction," Nicole Rizzuto, Georgetown University

When Feb 01, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: The last decade has witnessed ongoing debates about the implementation of Emergency law in response to insurgency and terrorism. A question world powers confront post 9/11 is, “what is the temporality of Emergency; what justifies its extension through time?” Colonial novels of Jamaica demonstrate that this question has a history and a literary history.  In their formal stagings of the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865 and the brutal counter-insurgency that ensued, forgotten works by Herbert George de Lisser and Victor Stafford Reid alternately elaborate and challenge a rhetoric of “necessity” that governs arguments for the temporal extension of Emergency law during the colonial era, a rhetoric that has returned anew today.

Bio: Nicole Rizzuto is Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University. She is author of Insurgent Testimonies: Witnessing Colonial Trauma in Modern and Anglophone Literature (Fordham University Press, December 2015). Her work appears in Comparative Literature, College Literature, Twentieth-Century Literature, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, World Picture, and Contemporary Literature.

 

"When Liberation Coincides with Total Destruction: Walt Whitman's Biopolitics in Post-Katrina New Orleans and the Second Gulf War," Christian Haines, Dartmouth College

When Jan 25, 2016
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Abstract: This paper argues for a biopolitical approach to Walt Whitman’s poetry, one that considers how Whitman locates utopian possibility in a poetics of the flesh. I examine two adaptations of Whitman’s poetry, a 2009 Levi’s Jeans commercial directed by Cary Fukunaga and Rob Halpern’s 2012 collection of poetry Music for Porn. The former stages Whitman’s utopian aspirations in post-Katrina New Orleans, the latter revises Whitman’s Civil War poetry in response to the second Gulf War. In both cases, the historical wounds borne by bodies become sites for reimagining social futures. Whitman’s name, I propose, becomes a crossroads in which the long disaster of American exceptionalism converges with struggles to construct a world beyond the constraints of capitalist and state formations.

Bio: Christian Haines is Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College. He is completing his first book, A Desire Called America: Biopolitics, Utopia, and the Literary Commons, which examines utopian figurations of corporeality in nineteenth-century and contemporary U.S. literature. He has published essays in journals including Criticism, Genre, and Angelaki: A Journal of the Theoretical Humanities. He is co-editor and a contributor to a forthcoming special issue of Cultural Critique entitled “What Comes After the Subject?” His current research examines the relationship between contemporary cultural production and finance capital.

Comparative Literature Luncheon: Roundtable discussion of the 2015 Nobel Prize, Penn State Faculty

When Dec 07, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 12:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

"The Historical Novel of Contemporary Capitalism," David Cunningham, University of Westminster (UK)

When Nov 30, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Dr David Cunningham is Deputy Director of the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture and a Reader in Modern Literature and Culture at the University of Westminster in London. He has published widely on aesthetics, modernism, and the theory of the novel, including collections on Adorno and Literature and Photography and Literature. He is a longstanding editor of the journal Radical Philosophy.

"Fanon on the Question of Species: Humanism as Restlessness(‘ala qalqin)," R.A. Judy, University of Pittsburgh

When Nov 16, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

R. A. Judy is Professor of Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the boundary 2 Editorial Collective. He is author of (Dis)forming the American Canon: The Vernacular of African Arabic American Slave Narrative (1992), and has published numerous essays in the areas of contemporary Islamic philosophy, literary/cultural theory, music, Arabic and world literatures, including “Some Thoughts on Naguib Mahfouz in the Spirit of Secular Criticism,” and “Sayyid Qutb’s fiqh al- waqi‘i, or New Realist Science.” Having studied Arabic language and literature at al-Azhar University from 1975-79 and the Institut Bourguiba des Langues Vivantes, Université de Tunis I in 1988, he was subsequently a Fulbright Fellow at the Institut Bourguiba des Langues Vivantes from 1998-99, and has edited two important boundary 2 dossiers on Tunisia: The Tunisian Revolution Dignity (2012), and Some Notes on the Status of Global English in Tunisia (2000).

“From Corpse to Specter: Venice as Antagonist and Emblem of Modernity,” Jennifer Scappetone, University of Chicago

When Nov 09, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

View the recorded talk on YouTube!

Jennifer Scappettone is a poet, translator, and scholar. Killing the Moonlight: Modernism in Venice, her study of the outmoded city of lagoons as a crucible for twentieth-century aesthetic and political experiments, was published by Columbia University Press in 2014 and is a finalist for the Modernist Studies Association’s annual book award. She edited and translated Locomotrix: Selected Poetry and Prose of Amelia Rosselli, winner of the Academy of American Poets’s Raiziss/De Palchi Prize, and curated Belladonna Elders Series 5: Poetry, Landscape, Apocalypse. Poetry collections include From Dame Quickly (Litmus, 2009) and Exit 43, an archaeology of landfill and opera of pop-up counterpastorals, forthcoming from Atelos Press. She is Associate Professor of English, Creative Writing, and Romance Languages and Literatures and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago.

"Free Indirect, or Who is the Subject of the Work of Fiction?" Timothy Bewes, Brown University

When Nov 02, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

View the recorded talk on YouTube!

Abstract: For Michel Foucault the subject, subjectivation, is one of the ways in which the event of discourse is regulated and controlled by means of limitations and exclusions – regulated not from outside it but as a procedure internal to discourse. It is in the service of a liberation from those limitations that Foucault urges us to discover, beneath the manifest themes of expression, of plenitude, a principle of “discontinuity.” Discourses, he says in “The Order of Discourse,” “must be treated as discontinuous practices, which cross each other, are sometimes juxtaposed with one another, but can just as well exclude or be unaware of each other.”  In the spirit of Foucault’s inquiry, I will take up the question of the subject of the work of fiction. Through a comparison of two recent uses of free indirect discourse, I will attempt to locate the question of the subject of the work of fiction at the site of the “caesurae” that, says Foucault, “break up the instant and disperse the subject into a plurality of possible positions and functions.”

"Remaking Machines: Pragmatics and Politics of Photography," Gabriel Rockhill, Villanova University

When Oct 26, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

View the recorded talk on YouTube!

Abstract: “The only sensible weapon against the cops,” Chris Marker presciently claimed in the 1960s, is “a film camera.” Exploring the ramifications of this statement in the context of the current struggles around the racial violence perpetrated by the police and vigilantes, this paper proposes a broad reflection on the social pragmatics of photography and its consequences. It begins by revisiting the question ‘what is photography?’ by inquiring into its supposed privileged relationship to the objective world. It argues that photography, far from simply capturing reality, is a powerful remaking machine that recomposes the very nature of the real. By resituating the photographic apparatus in a broad social pragmatics, it thereby seeks to elucidate its political power as a “sensible weapon.”

Bio: Gabriel Rockhill is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and the Director of the Atelier de Théorie Critique in Paris. He is the author, most notably, of Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics (forthcoming), Radical History & the Politics of Art (2014) and Logique de l’histoire (2010).

“Redesigning Shakespeare with Digital Media: New Technologies in Experimental Performance and The Wooster Group's Hamlet,” Serap Erincin, Penn State

When Oct 19, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

View the recorded talk on YouTube!

Abstract: The Wooster Group incorporated digital media and new technologies as part of their method of rehearsing and performing in a number of productions based on classics, including Hamlet (2007). Hamlet involves repetition of their own scores, which are already reenactments/recreations of scores of actors’ live performances in Richard Burton’s Hamlet captured on film. In this talk, I also discuss how the use of digital media in live performance offers us a way to simultaneously explore the fragmented layers of Shakespeare’s text in multiple mediums.

Bio: Serap Erincin is a performance artist, director and writer who has lived and worked in Istanbul, London, New York, and Florida. She earned her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from NYU and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State. She is the winner of various awards and fellowships and has published on performance and politics, especially with regard to human rights violations, as well as experimental dance and theatre. She is also the editor of Solum and Other Plays from Turkey and the writer and director of plays such as Inside “Out”, Connected, and Atrocity Boulevard

"Helpless against the tides: The Spirit of the Times in Doris Lessing’s Autobiographies," Maria Olaussen, University of Gothenburg

When Oct 12, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

View the recorded talk on YouTube!

Doris Lessing’s novels can be considered among the most important sources of feminist inspiration for a generation of women who came to be involved in activist work in the 1960s and 1970s. Her descriptions of independent women dedicated to political work are based on her own experiences in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and London in the 1940s and 1950s, and often express a deep sense of disillusionment and critical distance to political activism. Lessing’s troubled relation to feminism was brought out in her 1987 publication Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, based on the Massey lectures of 1985, where she discusses the power and dangers of religious and political movements. In this presentation I want to read Lessing’s autobiographies, Under My Skin (1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997) against the ideas expressed in the Massey lectures with a particular focus on how Lessing depicts the difficulties of depicting and explaining “the spirit of the times”.

Maria Olaussen is Professor of English at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. She has published on Feminist theory and African literature, especially African women writers. She is the author of Three Types of Feminist Criticism and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Forceful Creation in Harsh Terrain: Place and Identity in Three Novels by Bessie Head as well as the edited collection Africa Writing Europe: Oppositions, Entanglements, Juxtapositions. Her teaching and research interests are in African literature, Gender and Postcolonial Studies. She is currently working on a project entitled Narrating the Animal Subject: Concurrences as Narrative Strategy.

"Beyond the Human: Universalism, Humanism, and the 1930s French Avant-garde," Efthymia Rentzou, Princeton University

When Oct 05, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

View the recorded talk on YouTube!

 Abstract: This paper discusses the  surrealist magazine Minotaure (1933-1939) and other productions of the French avant-garde in the 1930s, such as  Georges Bataille’s magazine Acéphale,  as intense critical investigations into the notion of the human and of humanism.The universal human quality explored in these publications is no longer a rational harmonious figure at the center of the world but rather a being at once open to the animal- and object-realms, sharing with them certain modes of perception and qualities previously viewed as pre-human or inhuman. The elaboration of this new human hinges on the transformation of the classical tradition, of “Greece” from a humanistic topos of universality into a new cultural code for “the world.” This leads to a striking new understanding of humanism, one that is no less encompassing than its Renaissance and Enlightenment predecessors, but no longer anthropocentric in the same ways.The new non-anthropocentric humanism that results from these displacements invites humans into a different relationship with the world, but also encodes a specific political position during the 1930s, one that stand against the totalitarian regimes and their regulation of what stands as "human." Against this background, what these avant-garde publications propose is an alternative universalism as a critic of Western thought, articulated on an intense experimentation with the human figure.

Bio: Effie Rentzou is an Associate Professor of French Literature in the Department of French and Italian at Princeton University. She studies avant-garde and modernist literature and art, and particularly poetics, the relation between image and text, social analysis of literature, politics and literature, and the internationalization of the avant-garde. Her first book, Littérature malgré elle: Le surréalisme et la transformation du littéraire (2010) examines the construction of literary phenomena in the production of an anti-literary movement, surrealism. She is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled Concepts of the World: Avant-garde and the Idea of the International that explores the conceptualization of the “world” in the work and activities of writers and artists within and around historical avant-garde movements – futurism, dada, and surrealism – during the period 1900-1940.