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

Comp Lit Luncheon Archive

"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.  

“Saplings and Crustaceans: Figuring Youth and Age in Spanish Modernist Poetics,” Leslie Harkema, Yale University

When Sep 28, 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:  A number of critics of literary modernism have called attention to the fact that, with the advent of the twentieth century, a radical shift occurs in Western treatments of the Bildungsroman: the linear narrative of development oriented toward adulthood gives way to an interest in representing the non-linear experience of adolescence. Modernist writers eschew a journey along a single path in favor of a uniquely youthful temporality, marked by simultaneity, latency, and possibility. Just as the adolescent body undergoes physical changes and reaches the height of its vigor and agility, the youthful mind and imagination are represented as supple, impressionable, and potently creative. While perhaps the best known example of modernist adolescence is James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in Spanish art of the modernist period the resistance to Bildung that appears in this novel and many others emerges distinctively in lyric poetry and the discourse that surrounds its production. In this talk, I will explore this phenomenon by considering two non-human but nonetheless corporal images that recur in Spanish poetry and writings on poetics from the first three decades of the twentieth century (the so-called “Silver Age” in Spanish letters): the post-romantic image of a young tree, and the hard shell of a crustacean, emblem of adult impassivity and rigid critical tradition. Discussing several poems written in Castilian during this period as well as other cultural documents, I argue that these images defy the teleological pull of development by concretizing youth and age as physical and spiritual absolutes.

Bio: Leslie Harkema, Assistant Professor of Spanish at Yale University, received her Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from Boston University.  Her areas of interest include nineteenth- and twentieth-Century Peninsular Literature; modern Hispanic poetry; literary responses to religious, political, and scientific discourse; tropes of youth and age in European modernism; literature of exile; and theory and practice of literary translation.  Professor Harkema’s current book project, Spanish Modernism and the Aesthetics of Youth: From Miguel de Unamuno to “La Joven Literatura”, examines the little-studied relationship between Unamuno and several Spanish writers associated with the so-called Generation of 1927, focusing on youth as a central concept in their aesthetic thought and self-fashioning. The poetic tradition that binds these writers together brings to light the central role that the twentieth century’s reimagining of adolescence and youth played in the development of literary modernism in Spain. Another book-length project, tentatively titled Faithful Betrayals: Translation and the Critique of Literary Culture in Modern Spanish Writing, undertakes to examine Spain’s relationships to its European neighbors in the 19th and 20th centuries—as well as the internal dynamics of interactions between regional nationalisms during this period—through the lens of Spanish writers’ attitudes toward and practices in literary translation.

“The Strength of Weak Links in the Sinophone System,” Jing Tsu, Yale University

When Apr 27, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

In the Chinese-language literary system, writers’ relations to one another are being reshuffled across time and space. Distant parallels are drawn into ever closer proximities, and the implicit comradeship once presumed between fellow exiles outside of mainland China can be repolarized due to this change. In the ocean that is the world literary space, intimacy can be uncomfortable. The compression of the global literary space is opening new doors and backchannels for loosening and tightening the grip of national literary geographies. New internal horizons and platforms are opening up, each eager to become a new site of comparisons—and perhaps to invite or disinvite renewed relations. For the first time—and never so evident—global, regional, national, and local interests are simultaneously in play. Approaching large-scale literary studies from the perspective of local and regional alliances, my talk explicates these dynamics in terms of the weak, and how margins forge their own margins. I highlight Taiwan in a dynamic triangulation with Hong Kong and Macau that is largely unseen on the world stage, and analyze, at the same time, the proliferation of new internal peripheries in Taiwan literature and how it manages such diversity. What would normally be distinguished as local and transregional accounts, then, works in tandem to animate what I have called “literary governance,” a decentralized but generative process in language-literature systems that is mobilized around hard and soft thresholds of language access, where combinations of affective attachments and institutional, or material, power are reproduced to uneven effects.

“Asian American Poetry and the Politics of Form,” Dorothy Wang, Williams College

When Apr 20, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Poetry studies—and literary studies more generally—have relegated Asian American poetry to tertiary status: as minority writing that lacks the pizazz of “real” minority literature and as poetic work that cannot be countenanced as “real” poetry. Asian American poetry functions as “identity” poetry, a side dish offering at a multicultural literary food court. The long history (over 130 years old) and wide formal spectrum of this body of writing are simply unknown to the great majority of poetry critics. To what extent does this ignorance reflect an unwillingness to think about the racial occlusions at the heart of our study of American poetry? How do insights into critical attitudes towards Asian American poetry—a category that links the most exalted literary genre and the most non-native of American English speakers—yield a glimpse into unexamined assumptions about English-language poetry and about fundamental poetic categories and concepts?

“A Group Interview with Nathaniel Mackey,” Nathaniel Mackey, Duke University

When Apr 13, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Nathaniel Mackey, winner of the National Book Award for poetry and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement, will discuss his work with a small panel of Penn State scholars. After a brief introduction to Mackey’s work by a Penn State faculty member, the panel will interview Mackey about his “discrepant engagements” as an author, editor, professor, and radio DJ. Following the interview, the panel will open the floor to questions from the audience. This event should be of interest to those seeking an introduction to Mackey’s writing as well as to those already familiar with it. It will also precede Professor Mackey’s second engagement at Penn State: a poetry reading on the evening of Tuesday, April 14, in the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium.

Nathaniel Mackey works in the areas of modern and postmodern literature in the U.S. and the Caribbean, creative writing, poetry and poetics, and the intersection of literature and music. He is the author of several books of poetry, fiction and criticism, most recently Nod House (New Directions, 2011), Bass Cathedral (New Directions, 2008), and Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005), respectively. Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25, a compact disc recording of poems read with musical accompaniment (Royal Hartigan, percussion; Hafez Modirzadeh, reeds and flutes), was released in 1995 by Spoken Engine Company. He is editor of the literary magazine Hambone and coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993).

“The World Unspoken: Kleist, Kafka, McCarthy,” Ian Fleishman, University of Pennsylvania

When Apr 06, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

This talk will interrogate the tension between the spoken, or the written, word and the world of the ineffable through three brief and enigmatic visions of horses in the works of Heinrich von Kleist, Franz Kafka and Cormac McCarthy. Exposing and exploding the limits of language and the limits of the human, these three authors long for a world unspoken: not merely an unspoken world or a world unspeakable, but rather an imagined paradise that is urgently and actively unspoken, undone by the very language that would otherwise describe it. It is through this unspeaking, through the casting off of the constraints of language, that Kleist, Kafka and McCarthy attempt an opening unto the noumenal, that the necessity of saying transcends itself and is transformed into an ecstasy of being.

Ian Thomas Fleishman is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his PhD in French and German Literature at Harvard in 2013. His first book manuscript is titled An Aesthetics of Injury: The Narrative Wound from Baudelaire to Tarantino. He has published in The German Quarterly, French Studies, The Journal of Austrian Studies and elsewhere on subjects ranging from the Baroque to contemporary cinema.

"Fine Illuminations: A visual essay on refinement, finesse, and global Cuba," Jacqueline Loss, University of Connecticut

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

Fino,” is a term frequently used by Cubans to evoke anything from refined, fine, educated, picky and glamorous, to elegant, delicate, gay, sexually repressed, and even whiter. Jacqueline Loss will consider how Cubans’ perception of this category reveals their racial, class, and gender anxieties, alluded to in the citation above. Building on diverse discussions on aesthetic judgment, Bourdieu’s Distinction and Sianne Ngai’s analysis of the zany, cute, and interesting for late capitalism, Loss seeks to theorize and historicize another category, “lo fino” (that which is fino), through which Cubans delineate their complex relationships toward capitalist and socialist consumption as well as contrasting modes of comportment that have been affected by distinct ideologies and historical encounters.  Wedding artistic practice to cultural studies scholarship, Loss seeks to not only trace the lineage and repercussions of this term for Cubans, but also to show how this aesthetic category is conditioned by place and circumstance. The resulting tapestry composed of interviewees’ words, archival research, and photographs by the internationally acclaimed Cuban photographer, Juan Carlos Alom, begins to tell a story about how a seemingly small, apparently aesthetic category elucidates the intersections among race, gender, and aesthetic theories. 

Jacqueline Loss is a professor of Latin American and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut. Her publications include Dreaming in Russian: The Cuban Soviet Imaginary (University of Texas Press, 2013), Cosmopolitanisms and Latin America: Against the Destiny of Place (Palgrave, 2005) and the co-edited volumes, Caviar with Rum: Cuba-USSR and the Post-Soviet Experience (Palgrave, 2012, Ed. with Jose Manuel Prieto) and New Short Fiction from Cuba (Northwestern University Press, 2007, Ed. with Esther Whitfield). She has published numerous articles and translated Cuban authors, including Antonio Álvarez Gil, Armando Suárez Cobián, Ernesto René Rodríguez, Jorge Miralles, Anna Lidia Vega Serova, Antonio Álvarez Gil, and Víctor Fowler Calzada.

“Threshold to the Kingdom: The Airport is a Border and the Border is a Volume,” Matthew Hart, Columbia University

When Mar 23, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

This talk considers the airport as an international border area. Its analysis is based on three linked premises: (1) in airports, legal and political practices of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and control become disaggregated; (2) borders between territories do not represent the edges of Euclidean geopolitical planes but ought, rather, to be considered as a three-dimensional volumes; and (3) the airport exemplifies and dramatizes a broader historical trend in which the space of the border has proliferated and become distended, appearing not merely at the edges of territories but within and throughout. Though its premises are rooted in social scientific research, the talk considers three main examples. First up is the defection scene in the opening chapter of Rudolf Nureyev's autobiography, Nureyev (1963), in which the great Bashkiri dancer stages his “leap to freedom” in a Paris airport. Second and third are two works by the British artist Mark Wallinger: his Turner Prize-winning installation, State Britain (2007), and Threshold to the Kingdom (2000), a video installation from which the talk takes its title and inspiration.

Matthew Hart teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His book, Nations of Nothing But Poetry, was published by Oxford UP in 2010. He is founding co-editor of the Columbia UP book series, Literature Now, and associate editor of Contemporary Literature. He is currently Past President of ASAP: the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present.

“The Labours of Tovarisch: Ezra Pound’s Slavic Worlds,” Mykola Polyuha, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

When Mar 16, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

While Ezra Pound’s biography and works seem to have been thoroughly examined, his heritage contains aspects that remain overlooked. The presence of Eastern European motifs constitutes one of such neglected areas. Although critics occasionally make cursory comments, a detailed elaboration of the topic is non-existent. Typically, Poundian scholars tend to believe that the poet was little concerned with Eastern Europe and his knowledge of the region is by default regarded as insignificant. Pound’s writings, however, testify the opposite. Leonard Doob’s quantitative analysis of Pound’s war speeches, for example, demonstrates that sixty-two percent of Pound’s radio broadcasts contain references to the Soviet Union. Indeed, one can hardly claim that Pound did not know anything at all about Eastern European countries. Many figures whom Pound admired and many friends whose works he often revised either traveled to Eastern Europe, or wrote about the region, or were of Eastern European origin. Eastern European countries were additionally the arenas for the 20th century major historical events (the Bolshevik revolution, both world wars, etc.), i.e., the events that left no one, including Pound, indifferent.

My talk considers Pound’s acquaintance with Eastern European (primarily Russian) cultural and politico-economical realm. By analyzing Pound’s literary heritage, I attempt to determine the broadness and accuracy of his expertise in Russia. In the talk, I will examine both common stereotypes about Eastern Europe that Pound shared with his contemporaries and his own unique views of the region. 

"Mirrored Resonance: Writing English in Chinese Characters," Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma

When Mar 02, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

Letters are not the building blocks of words—they merely represent the sounds that are, and Chinese characters can do this just as well, if not better.

Roughly 170 years ago, Chinese merchants in Hong Kong invented a system for writing English speech sounds in Chinese characters (morphosyllabic transliteration) still widely employed today to learn English pronunciation and to transcribe foreign words and proper names into Chinese (see Names of the World's Peoples: a Comprehensive Dictionary of Names in Roman-Chinese (世界人名翻译大辞典).  While this syllabic method of transcription reaches all the way back to writing on oracle bones, its more widespread use to transcribe English has helped consolidate, disseminate, and maintain pervasive phonotactic rules specific to so-called “China-English” (including systematic deletions, substitutions, additions, and stress-time “syllabification”). In fact, one can argue that the fate Chinese characters and the English language are now deeply intertwined as these phonotactic rules now govern the speech behaviors of more English speakers than there are Americans alive.

In this lecture Dr. Jonathan Stalling will explore several permutations of Chinese-English interlangauges as they lead into his Sinophonic English opera (Yingelishi) before turning to a new work he is calling Mirrored Resonance: The SinoEnglish Rime Tables. In this new project, Stalling draws upon Classical Chinese phonetics to imagine a new digraphic foundation for Chinese-English interlanguages structured within the epistemological framework of traditional rime tables. However, at the center of this new work lies a novel algorithm, which has now transcribed over 130,000 English words into “Sinographic English” along with new 3D digital learning environments created to accurately teach English pronunciation through Chinese characters in new ways.

 Jonathan Stalling is an Associate Professor of English specializing in cross-cultural poetics, comparative literature, and translation studies at the University of Oklahoma, where he is the founding editor of Chinese Literature Today magazine and book series and the curator of the Chinese Literature Translation Archive at the University of Oklahoma Library. His books include Poetics of Emptiness (Fordham) (recently published in Chinese as 虚无诗学), Grotto Heaven, Yingelishi(吟歌丽诗), and Lost Wax: Translation through the Void (TinFish early 2015). He is also an editor of The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: a Critical Edition (Fordham) and the translator of Winter Sun: The Poetry of Shi Zhi (1966-2007) (University of Oklahoma Press).

"Towards an Aesthetics of Stigmata: From Van Gogh's Paintings to Claire Denis's Films," Sabine Doran, Penn State

When Feb 23, 2015
from 12:15 PM to 01:25 PM
Where 102 Kern
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

This talk explores an aesthetics of stigmata, as framed by Claire Denis’s recent films, The Intruder and Trouble Every Day, and in dialogue with Van Gogh’s painterly engagement with stigmatic inscriptions at the turn of the century. Van Gogh’s emphasis on the stigmatic role of yellow in his late work, expressed through forms of “kinetic aggressivity,” will be shown to parallel the transgressive nature of Denis’s films, transgressive in both the formal and the affective senses, as thematized, for example, in sacrificial rituals (the Christ-like figure of the son in L’Intrus). At stake in both Van Gogh’s and Denis’s work is an insistence on the corporeal within networks of forces. 

Sabine Doran is Associate Professor in the Department of German and Slavic Languages and Literatures. She is the author of The Culture of Yellow, or, The Visual Politics of Late Modernity (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) and is currently working on a book on synaesthesia.