Tag Archives: London

Franco Moretti Public Lectures, KCL

Professor Franco Moretti (Stanford University) will be Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at King’s College London in June, 2017. As part of his visit he will give two public lectures. Details below. These events are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Details can be found here.

Lecture 1:

June 7, 2017. 17:00. Anatomy Lecture Theatre, King’s Building, King’s College London.

Totentanz. Operationaliziong Aby Warburg’s Pathosformel

The object of this study is one of the most ambitious projects of twentieth-century art history: Aby Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne, conceived in the summer of 1926 – when the first mention of a Bilderatlas, or “atlas of images”, occurs in his journal – and truncated three years later, unfinished, by his sudden death in October 1929.  Mnemosyne consisted in a series of large black panels, on which were attached about 1,000 black-and-white photographs of paintings, sculptures, book pages, stamps, newspaper clippings, tarot cards, coins, and other types of images. For Warburg, these thousand images were connected by morphological similarity and historical continuity. But the texts that accompany Mnemosyne are few and short, and the logic of his gigantic montage remains unclear. Often compared to Benjamin’s Passagenwerk, Warburg’s work is, in truth, much more elusive. One thread to orient oneself in the maze is however offered by the concept of the Pathosformel, or formula for (the expression of) passion. Turning this concept into a series of quantitative measurements – “operationalising” Pathosformeln – throws a new light on Warburg’s project, and opens the possibility to further develop it.

Registration link: https://kcltotentanz.eventbrite.co.uk/

Lecture 2:

June 21, 2017. 18:00. Edmond J. Safra Lecture Theatre, King’s Building, King’s College London.

Day and Night. On the counterpoint of Western and film noir

A first image: Ford’s stagecoach is in the midst of its journey; we see the uneven terrain, the rocks of Monument Valley, the distant horizon, the clouds in the sky (Stagecoach, 1939). It’s the long shot that is typical of the Western: a landscape so vast, it dwarfs the human beings within it; the remote, “alien” space of the Frontier, “which had been in its time as uncanny a place for pioneers as a moonscape might be”. A second image: Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray are meeting to plan their next moves against the insurance company (Double Indemnity, 1944); the setting is a perfectly familiar supermarket interior; customers walk by, a woman buys some baby formula, a janitor pushes a cart; boxes, cans, shelves; a cramped space, made even more so by the close-up typical of the film noir. But closeness doesn’t bring clarity: Stanwyck’s sunglasses make her expression completely unreadable (and things don’t improve when she later takes them off). In the Western, the opposite state of affairs: distance makes it often difficult to see – all those characters knitting their brows, trying to make sense of the figures moving far away – but it never generates ambiguity; one either sees, or does not. Daylight dominates; High Noon; a genre without shadows, en plein air, whose aesthetic conventions were more than ready to embrace color, as soon as it became technically available. Not so the noir, whose affinity to darkness – NightfallGaslightThe Night of the HunterThe Dark CornerThey Live by Night … – was enhanced by the thousand gradations of black and white film. Outdoor, diurnal, and distant, then; indoor, nightly, and close. Concave to convex. The structural antithesis of these two great post-war genres, and its historical significance, will be the subject of this talk.

Registration link: https://kcldayandnight.eventbrite.co.uk/

Desire/Knowledge: Critical Perspectives

Desire/Knowledge: Critical Perspectives, Council Room, King’s College London, May 18-20, 2017

Keynote Speakers:

  1. Professor Anne Vila (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  2. Professor Vincent Descombes (EHESS)

Framed as part of a research collaboration between King’s College London, the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this conference will explore the conceptually paired notions of desire and knowledge across a series of interventions drawn by researchers working in multiple disciplines across the globe. Details and programme at http://desireknowledge.kcl.ac.uk/

Attendance is free but registration is required.To register, please click here.

‘Convulsion and Enlightenment’, KCL

The 2017 Society for French Studies Annual Lecture: ‘Convulsion and Enlightenment’, Edmond J. Safra Lecture Theatre, Strand Building, King’s College London, 25th May 2017, 17:00.

Professor Anne Vila (University of Wisconsin – Madison), 2017 Visiting Fellow of the Society of French Studies.

The French Enlightenment is classically seen as an age of cool-headed, masterful reason.  So why were convulsions such a common theme not just in this period’s medical discourse, but also in its literature, aesthetic theories, and popular culture? How was convulsion, conceived as a natural propensity of the human body (P. Hequet, Le naturalisme des convulsions, 1733), connected to this period’s ideas about human nature, progress and perfectibility?  And who convulsed, and why? To answer those questions, this talk will survey the complex conceptual landscape that surrounded convulsions in eighteenth-century France, from the vibratory models popular in many fields (aesthetics, physiology, philosophy of mind, medical therapeutics), to the use of convulsions in sentimental literature and art theory, to curious phenomena like religious convulsionism, the vapors, and mesmerism.

Professor Anne Vila received her Ph.D. in French Literature from The Johns Hopkins University in 1990 and joined the faculty of the Department of French and Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that same year. She has also taught at Emory University and Stanford University. Her academic honours include a Phi Beta Kappa Dissertation Fellowship, an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a University of Wisconsin Halverson-Bascom Professorship, and a UW Madison Pickard-Bascom Professorship. During her 27-year career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she has served as Department Chair (Head of Department), Associate Chair for French, and Director of Graduate Studies for French MA/Ph.D. programmes. She has directed, co-directed, or served as second reader on 31 Ph.D. theses to date, for doctoral students in a wide range of fields (French, Italian, English, Slavic Languages and Literature, History, and History of Science).

Professor Vila’s publications include Enlightenment and Pathology: Sensibility in the Literature and Medicine of Eighteenth-Century France (1998), the co-edited volume Rethinking Cultural Studies 1: A State of the Question. EMF: Studies in Early Modern France, (2000), A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Enlightenment, 1650-1800, ed. (2014), three book translations, 32 articles or book chapters, 13 encyclopedia entries, and 13 book reviews. She has recently completed a book manuscript Suffering Scholars: Pathologies of the Intellectual in Enlightenment France (forthcoming in Spring 2018 at University of Pennsylvania Press) and, with Ronan Chalmin, a critical reedition of Tissot’s De la santé des gens de lettres (for Editions Garnier). She is also co-editing, with Florence Vatan, two essay volumes: ‘l’Esprit (dé)réglé: Literature, Science, and the Life of the Mind in France, 1700-1900’, a bilingual special issue of L’Esprit créateur (Winter 2016) and ‘Entre le corps et l’esprit: langages et savoirs concurrents,’ a special issue of Arts et savoirs ((http://aes.revues.org; forthcoming, Winter 2018). Her new book project is entitled ‘The Culture of Convulsions in France, 1730 to 1850.’

Free and open to the public, but attendance is required. To register click here.

CFP: Endgame(s) – GLITS

Endgame(s), GLITS (Goldsmiths Literature Seminar) Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference, June 9th 2017, Goldsmiths, University of London

Plenary Speaker: Professor Ivan Callus, University of Malta

Website: www.endgames2017.co.uk

We live in perilous times. Institutional decay, declining living standards, the collapse of social welfare, and potentially the end of liberal democracy all afflict our contemporary historical moment. Looming ecological and migratory issues transcend the limits of what we think and feel to be possible, threatening us in ways we are unable to imagine, let alone rationalise. Yet, there is a profound sense that every epoch has its own ‘endgame’; that every society recognises itself as itself in the vision of its own future demise. Endgames consequently populate the historical record, from the Millenarianism of the medieval world and the fin de siècle culture of Mitteleuropa, to the historical ends that the mythologies of Fascism and Stalinism sought to bring about, to anxieties of nuclear holocaust and the Y2K millennium bug and – more recently – Brexit. It seems that the apocalypse, by definition, must be repeatable. In 1925 T.S. Eliot captured appositely the sense of resultant disaffection and numbness – even frustration – this engenders: ‘This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.’

However, living in the end-times can also be exhilarating, even liberating. A German expression encapsulates this hedonism: ‘Tanz auf dem Vulkan [dancing on the volcano]’. The end-times – different from the mere knowledge of our individual mortality – can trigger an ecstatic sense of being, perhaps even a means to bridge the intersubjective gaps that lie between us and forge new collective possibilities. Thus, leading us to the imagining of termination for positive affect; bringing current socio-economic and political systems to their [il]logical conclusions; repurposing technology for socially beneficial and emancipatory ends.

This conference seeks to explore the way in which literature and narrative cultures order and represent visions of the end of the world and how this constitutes a pervasive influence on philosophy, political theory and popular culture. We invite papers that discuss ways of thinking and feeling in the end times, those of the past, present and, inevitably, those endgames still to be played out in the future.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Literature of resistance, dissidence, change, from the middle-ages to 21st Century.
  • The end of literature and the contemporary novel.
  • Borders and limits in relation to migration, displacement, and refuge.
  • Apocalypse, catastrophe and revelation.
  • Climate-change, environmental disaster, and eco-criticism.
  • Corruption, decadence, degradation, decay.
  • Endgames and end-times in popular culture.
  • Epochality, historicity, temporality.
  • Technology and media.
  • Post-truth and Post-fact discourses.

We warmly welcome abstracts for 20 minute papers, short creative pieces, and readings, from all postgraduate students by Friday 31st March to be sent to the conference organisers David Cross and Marc Farrant at endgames2017@gold.ac.uk – Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. Please include details of your current level of study and home institution. For creative readings, please send a short example of your work.

Majorities and Minorities: Literature and Identities, Text and Context, SOAS University of London

Majorities and Minorities: Literature and Identities, Text and Context, 28th April 2017, SOAS University of London

“Minor literature is not the literature of a minor language but the literature a minority makes in a major language.” Deleuze and Guattari

“The three characteristics of minor literature are the deterritorialization of language, theconnection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage ofenunciation.”  Deleuze and Guattari

What makes individuals or communities belong to the minority or the majority? How do authors’ positions within the minority-majority paradigm influence their fiction? Can we even formulate what minorities are? Do they have to be a minority in regard to a specific majority? Is it possible to define a majority? What does being marginal mean and how is it expressed in a work of art? How does the nation figure in defining minorities and majorities? What is the nation-state’s role in minor-major relations?

This conference will focus on the many different kinds of minority voices emanating from South Asia in the decades since independence. Any South Asian language and any form of minority identity is welcome.  By bringing scholars researching different voices from different languages in South Asia we aim to foster a dialogue that will help develop a South Asian paradigm of Minor Literature and help to identify the role of the state and different parallels across the subcontinent.

We would like to invite all scholars working on Indian or other South Asian literatures to submit an abstract on any of these or related areas.

 Caste and community

 Gender and sexualities

 Religions and traditions

 Marginalised geographies

 Poverty and class

 Minor literature in nationalisms and regionalisms

Paper proposals should include a title, 300-word abstract, institutional affiliation and contact information. Please submit proposals via email by January 15 2017 at the following address: samconference2017@gmail.com