The Spectral Turn

LUCAS Theory Seminar Fall 2017

As proposed by Ali Shobeiri, the coming semester the theory seminar will be devoted to the contemporary fascination with ghosts and haunting, the so-called spectral turn, a fascinating and complex topic because of its many manifestations. Most of the essays that will be read are from The Spectralities Reader, put together by Esther Peeren and Maria del Pilar Blanco.

*Although not the whole book will be read, more than half of the texts are assigned, so everybody is supposed to buy the reader:  María del Pilar Blanco and Esther Peeren, The Spectralities Reader. Ghosts and Haunting in Contemporary Cultural Theory (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). The other assigned texts will be send to everybody, after having registered for this seminar.

* Those who want to participate have to register by sending an email to Ernst van Alphen:

* The seminar takes place in Lipsius 236.

* Meetings start at 15:15 in the afternoon and end around 18.00.



28 September: Lipsius 236


– María del Pilar Blanco and Esther Peeren, “The Spectral Turn: Introduction”, in The Spectralities Reader , pp. 31-36

– Julian Wolfreys, “Preface: On Textual Haunting”, The Spectralities Reader, 69-74

– Colin Davis, État Présent: Hauntology, Spectres and Phantoms, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 53-60

– Roger Luckhorst, “The Contemporary London Gothic and the Limits of the ‘Spectral Turn’,” The Spectralities Reader, pp. 75-88

12 October: Lipsius 236

Time, History

– Jacques Derrida, “Injunctions of Marx”, in Spectres of Marx, Translated from the French by Peggy Kamuf, (Routledge 1994), pp 1-60 pp.

– Achille Mbembe, “from Life, Sovereignty, and Terror in the Fiction of Amos Tutuola”, in The Spectralities Reader, 131-150

– Peter Hitchcock, “from ( ) of Ghosts”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 175-196

2 November: Lipsius 236


– Tom Gunning “To Scan a Ghost: The Ontology of Mediated Vision”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 207-244

– Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler,“Spectrographies”, in The Spectralities Reader ()

– Ernst van Alphen, “Blurred Images, in Failed Images: Photography and its Counter-Practices (in press)

16 November: Lipsius 236


“Spectral Subjectivities: Gender, Sexuality, Race”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 309-316

– Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “from Ghostwriting”, in The Spectralities Reader, 317-334

– Carla Freccero, “Queer Spectrality: Haunting the Past”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 335-360

– Nicolas Abraham and Nicholas Rand, “The Shell and the Kernel”,

Diacritics, Vol. 9, No. 1, The Tropology of Freud (Spring, 1979), pp. 15-28

14 December : Lipsius 236


– Anthony Vidler, “Buried Alive”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 403-414

– Michael Mayerfeld Bell,  “The Ghosts of Place”, Theory and Society 26, 6 (December 1997), pp. 813-36

– Ulrich Baer, “To Give Memory a Place:Contem porary Holocaust Photography and the Landscape Tradition”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 415-444

– Giorgio Agamben, “On the uses and Disadvantages of Living among Specters, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 473-478


Interpretation Today

Organizers: Kári Driscoll and Inge van de Ven
Contact:  Inge van de Ven,
Register: contact Eloe Kingma at Please specify your home institution and programme

Interpretation Today: Hermeneutics, Anti-hermeneutics, and Post-hermeneutics

How can we assess the status of interpretation in the Humanities today? Increasingly in the last decades, scholars have written about the limits of interpretation. Recent forms of ‘distant reading’ in Digital Humanities, experiments in machine reading, critiques of historicism, and narratives of the ‘turn away from the linguistic turn,’ all foreground the epistemological restrictions inherent to the practice of interpreting individual texts. We discuss various orientations toward reading that oppose some of the hallmarks of the hermeneutic tradition—such as depth, consciousness, the primacy of language, humanism, interpretation, mediation, epistemology, and historicism. Instead, these theories value surfaces, description, cognition, affect, materiality, nonhuman entities, the natural and social sciences, and speculative thought.

After rehearsing some of the tenets of hermeneutics through readings of Heidegger and Gadamer, we delve into a range of different forms of post- and anti-hermeneutic criticism such as media archaeology (Ernst, Kittler; Flusser; Parikka); speculative realism and object-oriented ontology (Bryant; Harman; Meillassoux); surface reading (Best and Marcus; Sedgwick; Sontag), and quantitative formalism (Moretti; Allison et al.). In our seminar, we critically assess these various orientations and try to rethink the uses and disuses of hermeneutics for the present moment.



Wednesday 20 Sept. 15.15-17.00; Tilburg University, room C186 (Ruth First)

  1. Ontological hermeneutics and Phenomenology I: Heidegger, Gadamer. Introduction by Frans van Peperstraten.
  • Heidegger, Beind and Time. 1927. Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell, 1962. Ch.5, par. 31-34 (pp.182-210).
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method, 2nd ed., trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. London and New York: Continuum, 2004 [orig. 1960]. Selection.

Wed 25 Oct.? 15.15-17.00. Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

  1. The Hermeneutics of Suspicion: Ricœur, Derrida, and critiques of Gadamer. Introduction by Gert-Jan van der Heiden and Sanem Yazicioglu
  • Paul Ricœur, Freud and Philosophy, 1965. Selection.
  • Paul Ricœur, From Text to Action, 1986. Selection.
  • Van der Heiden, Gertjan. The truth (and untruth) of language: Heidegger, Ricoeur and Derrida on disclosure and displacement, Pittsburgh, PA:
  1. Speculative realism and Object-oriented Ontology. Introduction by Alex Gekker.
  • Bryant, Levi. “Onticology–A Manifesto for Object-Oriented Ontology, Part 1.” Larval Subjects,   2010.
  • Meillassoux, Quentin. After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. New York: Continuum, 2008. Selection.
  • Harman, Graham. Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. Peru, Illinois: Open Court, 2002. Selection.
  • Alexander Galloway “The Poverty of Philosophy: Realism and Post-Fordism.” Critical Inquiry2, 2013. 347-66.

Friday 15 Dec. 15.15-17.00; Utrecht University, …

  1. Media archaeology I: Friedrich Kittler & Vilém Flusser. Introduction by Kiene Brillenburg Wurth.
  • Kittler, Friedrich A. Discourse Networks 1800/1900. Trans. Michael Metteer and Chris Cullens. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1990. Introduction; selection.
  • Flusser, Vilém. Does Writing Have a Future? Nancy Ann Roth. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2011. 3-53.

Friday 19 Jan. 15.15-17.00; Leiden University, …

  1. Media archaeology II: Wolfgang Ernst and Jussi Parikka. Introduction by Ernst van Alphen.
  • Ernst, Wolfgang. Digital Memory and the Archive. Ed. Jussi Parikka. Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P, 2013. Selections.
  • Parikka, Jussi. What Is Media Archaeology? New York: Wiley, 2012. Selections.

16 Feb. 15.15-17.00; Utrecht University, ….

  1. Technology, Algorithmic Culture, Humanity. Introduction by Kári Driscoll.
  • Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time (vol. 1). Selections.
  • Alexander Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. Selection. [or another title?]

16 March 15.15-17.00; Tilburg University, …

  1. Distant reading and quantitative formalism. Introduction by Tom van Nuenen.
  • Allison, Sarah, et al. “Quantitative Formalism: An Experiment.” Stanford Literary Lab, Pamphlet 1, 15 Jan. 2011.
  • Jockers, Matthew L. Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Ch. 1 (Revolutions); Ch. 2 (Evidence); Ch. 3 (Tradition). 3-23.

20 April 15.15-17.00; Leiden University; …..

  1. Surface reading/reparative reading/the descriptive turn. Introduction by Inge van de Ven.
  • Felski, Rita. The Limits of Critique. U of Chicago P, 2015. Selection.
  • Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Duke UP, 2003. [ch 4: “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or: You’re so paranoid, you probably think this essay is about you.”]
  • Sontag, Susan. “Against Interpretation.” [1966]. Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. 3-14

25 May 15.15-17.00; Tilburg University; …

  1. Fragmented realism: Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Deleuze. Introduction by Daan Rutten.
  • Deleuze, Giles. Difference and Repetition, 1968. Selection.
  • Willem Schinkel, Aspects of Violence, 2010 Selection.
  • Optional: Arjen Kleinheerenbrink, Alles is een machine, 2017

15 June 15.15-17.00; KNAW, Trippenhuis. Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011, Amsterdam.

  1. Agamben’s Potentialities. Introduction by Geertjan de Vugt.
  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2



This is a NICA core activity. Completing this activity earns you a certificate specifying the number of EC credits at stake. You can have this certificate formally registered at your institution’s administrative office. You may need to acquire the permission of your program coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this activity.


Dissecting Violence

Structures, Imaginaries, Resistances

ASCA/NICA Graduate Workshop 2018, 4-6 April 2018
Organized by Peyman Amiri, Natasha Basu, Bernardo Caycedo

Violence is all around us. Our everyday practices, unwillingly and unknowingly, often support cultural, social, economic, and legal structures that cause and perpetuate physical and psychological harm. These structures, whether visible or hidden, tend to privilege certain groups of people, and dehumanise other groups. The way we conceive violence depends highly on the groups we belong to or are categorised in, and on our individual and collective experiences. Our reactions to violence, whether to comply with or resist it, are influenced by the way we perceive blatant and subtle forms of violence.

In Dissecting Violence: Structures, Imaginaries, Resistance, we will take on violence and its structures, its imaginaries and representations, as well as the multiple ways it can be resisted. Due to the complexity of these topics, the conference encourages researchers, artists, and activists from a wide range of disciplines to participate in the debate.

Structures of Violence

“Whatever is called ‘violence’ becomes regarded as violent from a particular perspective embedded in a defining framework. We might first presume that violence is physical, but if we do that, we fail to account for those kinds of violence that are linguistic, emotional, institutional, and economic, that undermine and expose life to harm or death, but do not take the literal form of a blow.”(Judith Butler 2016)

Wars, famines, rioting, terrorist attacks, police brutality, and colonial continuities on a global scale are caused and perpetuated by institutions that are considered legitimate, if not democratic. There are also types of violence that may not be evident to us due to the way they are normalised through cultural practices, but are nonetheless sustained by structures that are shaped by those same institutions. In this stream, we welcome presentations that address structures of violence, such as heteronormative marriage, geo-political borders, workplace relations, and environmental degradation.

We are interested in understanding how these types and intersections of structural violence operate, and their epistemic premises. What are the features of these structures that make them violent? How do certain societal features support these structures of violence? How do structures of violence seep into spheres that are traditionally understood as not political (family, friendship, marriage and partnership)? How do these structures differ, overlap and intersect in particular geopolitical and cultural contexts? For example, what is the difference between how state and financial violence operates in Europe and Africa? How do the structures of violence differ and intersect as they operate at the border between Palestine/Israel, Mexico and the US, and in the Mediterranean Sea?

Imaginaries of Violence

“The causes and effects of extreme violence are not produced on one and the same stage, but on different “scenes” or “stages,” which can be pictured as “real” and “virtual” or “imaginary” –but the imaginary and virtual are probably no less material, no less determining than real.” (Etienne Balibar, 2001)

Even though certain forms of structural violence may be overlooked, individual and collective actions and productions can make them visible. We welcome presentations on how violence can be represented, imagined and mediatised by material, visual and artistic productions. Some representations of violence, with strong political significance, are based on “imaginaries of violence”, understood as collective ways of conceiving violence detached from factual evidence. These imaginaries constitute the subjective dimension of collective experiences of violence, which can lead to clashes over who is entitled to determine what violence is, and who the victims and perpetrators are. At the same time, these imaginaries emphasise the role of affects and emotions in defining violence.

This stream is open to discussions that address questions such as: how do traditional media, new media and art portray, publicise, exploit, produce or disregard violence? To what extent are these various ways of relating to violence based on “imaginaries of violence”? How can cultural productions lead to the normalisation or naturalisation of violent social practices? What specific kinds of violence are committed by or through the media? What digital behaviours could or should be considered contemporary forms of violence? What do practices such as cyberbullying, trolling, revenge porn, doxing and leaking make us understand about violence in the digital realm?

Resisting Violence

“[T]o destroy one thing for the sake of constructing another thing. That is resistance.” (Amilcar Cabral, 1969)

The key issue in this stream is the connection between violence and resistance: how can structures of violence condition resistance and how could resistance perpetuate violence? Is the destruction of structures of violence unavoidably violent or a matter of tactical choice? The various theoretical and practical ways of reacting to violence and resisting its structures can be analysed from a conceptual or a normative perspective.

We are interested in presentations that analyse how tactics of resistance such as armed struggle, occupations, civil disobedience, everyday forms of resistance, self-immolations, hunger strikes, satyagraha, hacktivism, symbolic resistance, and other forms that have been traditionally overlooked, contest structures of violence. Additionally, how do certain theories and methods like postcolonial and decolonial theories, feminism, intersectionality, queer theory, etc. in themselves resist violence?

Equally welcome are presentations that address normative questions such as: who has the moral authority and legitimacy to determine which forms of resistance may be called violent or nonviolent? How can this labelling be contested? How could the violent/non-violent characterisation function as a constraint on collective movements of emancipation that aim at transforming structures of violence? To what extent do means shape ends and/or ends justify means when it comes to resisting violence?


Submission Guidelines

We welcome abstracts of up to 300 words and short bios of up to 100 words. Please send the abstract and bio as attachments to by 15 October 2017. Upon acceptance, you will be asked to submit your full presentation by 31 January 2018. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


Dissecting Violence Website

Cultural Studies Now

Dates and Time: Fridays November 3, 10, 17 and 24, December 1 and 8; 15:00-17:00; mini-conference early February
Place: see below
: Murat Aydemir
Register: send an email to Eloe Kingma at before October 15. Please be sure to specify your master program and university

Cultural Studies and Cultural Analysis are no longer the rebellious upstarts they used to be. They have become canonised and institutionalised fields at a time in which the (critical, hermeneutic, theoretical) Humanities are under attack. At the same time, the political promises of the field — e.g. the emancipatory claims associated with identity politics and popular culture — seem no longer quite warranted, or at least demand new forms of confrontation and engagement.

All this suggests it is now all the more urgent to ask ourselves anew how we want to inhabit or relate to the field. How do we wish to situate ourselves in, or perhaps vis-à-vis, Cultural Studies academically, institutionally, intellectually, and politically? In this course, we will revisit the main genealogies and methodologies of Cultural Studies in relation to current developments, exploring the following five areas of contestation: conjuncture, politics, reality, interdisciplinarity, culture. How did Cultural Studies start out? What can it now be?

With key readings by Stuart Hall, Mieke Bal, Paul Smith, Lawrence Grossberg, and many others.


November 3: PCH 4.11
November  10: PCH K0.4
November 17: PCH K0.4
November 24: OIH E.014
December 1: PCH K0.4
December 8: PCH K0.4





This is a NICA core activity. Completing this activity earns you a certificate specifying the number of EC credits at stake. You can have this certificate formally registered at your institution’s administrative office. You may need to acquire the permission of your program coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this activity.


John Lysaker & Paul Lysaker: Disordered Self


Thinking Through the Disordered Self: New Directions in the Dialogue between The Arts, Psychiatry and The Humanities

Two public lectures on art, self-experience and mental illness, by John Lysaker and Paul Lysaker

Registration required: please register by email through:
May 31st, 19:00-22:00, VOC hall, Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam

There is a long tradition of dialogue between the domain of the arts, the humanities and psychiatry – ranging from phenomenological approaches to mental illness, through narrative and creative therapy, to the medical humanities and neurophilosophy. After all, one of the fundamental questions of the humanities – what is it to be human? – often leads to questions about the self, mind and consciousness, and about what happens if these are affected by mental illness. With the current fascination for forms of ‘self-management’, ‘self-care’, or ‘self-direction’ in both psychosomatic medicine and psychiatry, the dialogue between the humanities and mental healthcare has shifted to the topic of ‘the self’ once again. How can we approach self-experience, and how can we understand the disordered self? What are the conceptual and existential challenges of taking care of (or managing and directing) this disordered self? What can the humanities – or art and literature – tell us about mental illness, and how can we further develop theories of the self by building on experiences from clinical practice? During this special event, John Lysaker, Professor  of Philosophy, and Paul Lysaker, Psychiatrist and Professor of Clinical Psychology, will tackle these and other questions. The event is bound to be of great interest to all master, research master, PhD students and academic staff members with interest in specifically psychiatry, (neuro)philosophy, psychology, narratology, literary studies, aesthetics, phenomenology, and art theory.


19:00-19:40 Prof. John Lysaker: What Art Asks of Us

19:40-20:00 Q&A

20:00-20:40 Prof. Paul Lysaker: The Relevance of the Humanities to Clinical Practice

20:40-21:00 Q&A

Paul H. Lysaker is a clinical psychologist at the Roudebush VA Medical Center and a professor of clinical psychology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, department of psychiatry, Indianapolis Indiana. He received his doctorate in Psychology from Kent State University in 1991. His research interests include the psychological processes that affect recovery from serious mental illness, alterations in consciousness in disorders such as schizophrenia and the development of long term forms of psychotherapy focused on enhancing wellness for adults with psychosis. He is an author of over 330 peer reviewed papers on these and related subjects.

John Lysaker is Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. His work concerns human flourishing and whatever facilitates or frustrates its emergence. He works in philosophical psychology, the philosophy of art, and social philosophy, and primarily from the traditions of hermeneutic phenomenology, critical social theory, and American romanticism. He is the author of Poetry and the Birth of Sense (2002), Emerson & Self-Culture (2008) and the co-author, with Paul Lysaker, of Schizophrenia and the Fate of the Self (2008). Current projects include Where Do We Find Ourselves: Essays After Emerson, and Dear Glaucon: Finding Our Bearings with Artworks.

This workshop is an initiative of Gaston Franssen (University of Amsterdam) and Stefan van Geelen (University Medical Center Utrecht/Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital). In February-March 2017, they organized the interdisciplinary MA/RMA research tutorial ‘What Is It Like To Be A Patient: Stories in Medicine, Psychology and The Humanities’; for more information, follow this link; for a video impression of the tutorial, please follow this link as well as this link. The workshop is co-funded by the NWO research project “Management of the Self: a Humanities Approach to Self-Management in Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine”, carried out at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the University Medical Center Utrecht, the VU University Amsterdam, the Dimence Mental Healthcare Group and the University of Amsterdam. For more information, please email: Gaston Franssen ( or Stefan van Geelen (