For: PhD and select Graduate Students
Dates: (Semester 1) Sep 11, Oct 9, Nov 13, Dec 18 (Semester 2): Feb 19, Mar 11, Apr 8
Time: 3 – 6 pm
Place: Belle van Zuylenzaal, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Singel 425 (except Oct 9 – Vondelzaal, UB)
Organizer: Sudeep Dasgupta
Exemplifying, Diverting, Resisting
Cultural analysis acknowledges the productive power of objects to produce disturbances, provocations, inversions and reverberations in the practice of research and the general production of knowledge. Objects are not just the grounds on which one builds an argument or theoretical edifice. If objects are our subject-matter, they in turn can convert the researching subjects and research itself into an object of research. Objects occasion both problems and possibilities, and sometimes both at once. A picture can illustrate an argument but equally provide a counter-argument. A novel might exemplify a social condition but as easily divert one to other considerations. A political crisis might resist an interpretation but precisely for that reason produce theoretical innovation. Object lessons can teach a researcher by, among other things, diverting, exemplifying or resisting our desires. Three keywords – exemplifying, diverting, resisting – frame the Theory seminar’s focus on the productively vexing status of objects in research practice.
Each keyword will be approached by readings on two levels: a meta-level reading will address precisely the status of an object in research practice; the analytical level will comprise a specific analysis of an object. For example, Jacques Derrida’s canonical critique of the status of “the example” in Claude Lévi-Strauss’ research (Tristes Tropiques), and a contemporary deployment of the object-as-example (Wolf Hall as realist novel). Or, the increasing critique of the turn to “object-oriented ontologies” (Graham Harman, Ian Bogost) and the proliferation of analyses of objects (see objectsobjectsobjects.com, Bill Brown). Or the making-object of something as ephemeral as subaltern consciousness (Ranajit Guha) and a critical feminist appraisal of this theoretical desire (Gayatri Spivak). Or the encounters with objects as ciphers and symptoms of modernity (Karl Marx, Siegfried Kracaeur, Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin) and the desire for interpretation which dreams objects away or into existence (Sigmund Freud; Liu, Mowitt, Pepper at al.)
The monthly meetings will involve a close engagement with the readings through student presentations and discussion. One “no-reading” session will be devoted specifically to presentations by students (in groups) on the specific issues coming up in their work-in-progress as they approach their research objects.
If you want to participate, please send a message to Eloe Kingma at email@example.com. RMA students willing to join the Theory Seminar, are invited to come to the first session on 11 September, and have a conversation with Sudeep Dasgupta about their research interests. On the basis of this conversation it will be decided if they can participate. Please send a message to Eloe if you are interested.