Masterclass Ariella Azoulay (Brown University)

23 Nov 2018 | Tropenmuseum

The Research Center for Material Culture is pleased to invite you to a masterclass with Professor Azoulay, one of the leading photo theorists today. Azoulays work explores questions around photographic theory, archival practices in relation to issues of sovereignty, political subjectivity and human rights. Professor Azoulay will speak on the theme potential history, a concept and an approach that she has developed over the last decade, which has far-reaching implications for the fields of political theory, archival formations and photography studies.


Ariella Azoulay, Professor of Modern Culture and Media and the Department of Comparative Literature, Brown University, film essayist and independent curator of archives and exhibitions Azoulay’s research and forthcoming book (Verso, 2019) focus on potential history of key political concepts-institutions: archive, sovereignty, art and human rights. Potential history, a concept and an approach that she has developed over the last decade, has far-reaching implications for the fields of political theory, archival formations and photography studies.

Among her books: The Resolution of The Suspect (with photographer: Miki Kratsman), Radius Books/Peabody Museum Press, 2016; Aïm Deüelle Lüski and Horizontal Photography, Leuven University Press and Cornell University Press, 2013. From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950, (Pluto Press, 2011), Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (Verso, 2012) and The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008); co-author with Adi Ophir. The One State Condition: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and the River. Stanford University Press, 2012.

Her archives & exhibitions (selection): “Act of State 1967-2007,” [in Cher(e)s Ami(e)s, Centre Pompidou, 2016], “The Natural History of Rape,” (F/Stop photography festival, Leipzig & Pembroke Center, Brown University, 2016), “The Body Politic” [in Really Useful Knowledge, curated by What, How & for Whom / WHW], Reina Sofia, Madrid; When The Body Politic Ceases To Be An Idea, Exhibition Room – Manifesta Journal Around Curatorial Practices No 16, Potential History (2012, Stuk / Artefact, Louven), Untaken Photographs (2010, Igor Zabel Award, The Moderna galerija, Lubliana; Zochrot, Tel Aviv), Architecture of Destruction(Zochrot, Tel Aviv), Everything Could Be Seen (Um El Fahem Gallery of Art). Cinematic essays (selection): Civil Alliances, Palestine, 47-48 (2012), I Also Dwell Among Your Own People: Conversations with Azmi Bishara (2004), The Food Chain (2004).


To participate fully in the masterclass we ask that you read:


The class will be conducted as a discussion.
Attendees are expected to read the readings in advance of the seminar
More information and registration:


Crowds and Parties

ASCA/NICA Master class with Jodi Dean organized by Joost de Bloois, 22 November, 11:00-13:00 hrs., PC Hoofthuis, Spuistraat 134, room K04

Jodi Dean is a well-known political theorist. She is the author of several much-acclaimed books, such as The Communist Horizon, Blog Theory and Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies. Recently, she published Crowds and Parties with Verso Books. In her work, Dean theorizes new forms of political organization, the modern-day meaning of ‘communism’, as well as trenchant critiques of neoliberalism, institutional democracy, contemporary forms of labour and (new) media. Her work, often polemically, engages with contemporary theorists such as Toni Negri & Michael Hardt, and Slavoj Zizek, and takes its cues, among others, from Marxism, media studies and psychoanalysis.

For this master class, Dean will discuss chapters from Crowds and Parties and work in progress.

The master class is open to PhD and rMa students, as well as others working with or curious of Jodi Dean’s work. Participants will read chapters from Crowds and Parties, and will formulate questions for Jodi Dean to facilitate discussion.

The master class is relevant for scholars working in philosophy, cultural analysis, political sciences, media studies, history, gender studies.

PhD and rMa students may obtain credits for their participation.

For further information and registration, please contact: Joost de Bloois,

Elvis lives in Amsterdam. Manifestations of the imaginary musician

University of Amsterdam, 29 November – 1 December 2018

Conference convenors: Rutger Helmers and Oliver Seibt.

From Marvel’s Kiss comics of the late 1970s to Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger acting out different facets of Bob Dylan’s public persona in Todd Hayne’s experimental film I’m not there; from continuous assertions that the guy on stage isn’t the real Paul McCartney to YouTube videos showing Nigerian Michael Jackson impersonators; from Hans Sachs, the sixteenth-century Meistersinger, still performing regularly in Wagner’s opera, to a virtual band like Gorillaz; from Adrian Leverkühn’s pact with the devil in Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus to the unsolved mystery of Chet Baker’s defenestration from Amsterdam’s Prins Hendrik Hotel.

During this conference, hosted by the University of Amsterdam’s School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA), we aim to have an interdisciplinary discussion about the various ways in which our understanding of musicians taps into the imaginary, and what case studies about musicians can teach us about the imaginary constitution of our everyday experiences.

Thereby, our interest will not be to debunk myths, but to understand what role imaginary representations of musicians play in our personal lives, in society and the arts in general. In discussing collective as well as individual imaginations of musicians, we are especially interested in the concurrence of the dimensions of “the real”, “the fictive”, and “the imaginary” in music cultures. Theories of the imaginary as, for example, those by Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Wolfgang Iser, or Cornelius Castoriadis could thereby serve as theoretical background that allows for an interdisciplinary communication about the topic.

The conference will include three confirmed keynotes by Nicholas Cook (Musicology, University of Cambridge), Lydia Goehr (Philosophy, Columbia University), and Nick Prior (Sociology, University of Edinburgh), and feature the affiliated masterclass “Marsyas to Madonna. The construction of the musician as figure and type” with Lydia Goehr and Marlies de Munck (University of Antwerp) as well as the ongoing exhibition “Elvis has just left the panel” on musicians as characters in comic books and graphic novels.

For registration, please send an e-mail indicating the days you plan to attend to

Click here for the conference booklet with programme.


Marsyas to Madonna. The construction of the musician as figure and type

NICA Masterclass | Thursday 29 November, 9:30-11:30 | Universiteitsbibliotheek Amsterdam, Singel 425, Vondelzaal

With Lydia Goehr (Columbia University, New York) and Marlies de Munck (University of Antwerp / Royal Conservatory of Ghent)

This seminar will run through a history of the arts, from antiquity to popular culture, to ask what is at stake in putting musicians on view. Why look at them as opposed to listen to them? What does that say about music as an art? We will start with Apollo and Marsyas and go from there.

Central to the reflection are the contest of the arts and the rhetorical device of ekphrasis. Both rely on dynamics of competition and comparison to make a strong appeal to the imagination. But how does that affect our conception of the art of music? And how are these competitive practices related to the typical depiction and description of the musician? A careful analysis of the relation between music and words, and between music and the visual arts, will bring to the fore the importance of the imaginative experience in music.

Lydia Goehr is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Her research interests are in German aesthetic theory and in particular in the relationship between philosophy, politics, history, and music. She is the author of The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (1992), The Quest for Voice: Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy (1998), Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory (2008), and co-editor with Daniel Herwitz of The Don Giovanni Moment: Essays on the Legacy of an Opera (2006). She has written many articles on the work of Theodor W. Adorno, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Arthur Danto. Her current book is titled Red Sea – Red Square: Picturing Freedom – Liberating Wit.

Marlies De Munck studied at the Institute of Philosophy in Leuven. In 2012 she obtained a PhD in the philosophy of music with a dissertation on the concept of musical meaning, under the supervision of Lydia Goehr (Columbia University). She currently teaches at the University of Antwerp and at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent. She regularly gives lectures on themes in the philosophy of music and published articles on various topics in aesthetics and philosophy of art, such as literature, film and painting. She is co-editor of the essay-collection Muziek ervaren (Damon 2014) and recently published the book Waarom Chopin de regen niet wilde horen (Letterwerk 2017).


Participants of this seminar are asked to prepare a five-minute statement about a video, painting, picture, literary passage or other representation of an (imaginary) musician or musical work. The statement should be based on the readings and will be the starting point for discussion. In addition, every participant is asked to prepare two questions for debate.

The obligatory readings are:

Shadi Bartsch and Jaś Elsner. “Eight Ways of Looking at an Ekphrasis.” Classical Philology 102, no. 1 (January 2007): i-vi.

Lydia Goehr. “How to Do More with Words. Two Views of (Musical) Ekphrasis”. British Journal of Aesthetics 50, no. 4 (October 2010): 389–410.

Walter Pater. “The School of Giorgione.” In The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Literature, 130-54.

  1. W. Adorno. “On Some Relationships between Music and Painting,” translated by Susan Gillespie, The Musical Quarterly 79, no. 1 (Spring, 1995): 66-79.

Friedrich Nietzsche. “On Music and Words” (1871) [excerpt].

Lydia Goehr. “Improvising Impromptu, Or, What to Do with a Broken String”. In The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, edited by George E. Lewis and Benjamin Piekut (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Lydia Goehr. “ ‘All Art Constantly Aspires to the Condition of Music’—Except the Art of Music: Reviewing the Contest of the Sister Arts”. In The Insistence of Art: Aesthetic Philosophy After Early Modernity, edited by Paul A. Kottman (New York: Fordham University Press: 2017), 140-69.

Lydia Goehr. “The Central Claim.” Chapter 4 of The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works.


How to Register

To register, please send to a note to NICA (, in which you supply us with your name, affiliation (the master’s programme or research school you are associated with), and a brief motivation. Please register before November 15th. There is room for 20 participants in total. All are welcome, but NICA members will have priority. This masterclass counts for 1 EC for NICA participants.


Associated conference

This NICA masterclass is organized in parallel to the conference Elvis Lives in Amsterdam: Manifestations of the Imaginary Musician (29 November to 1 December), for which participants can register separately. For more information, see:


Picture credits: The Torment of Marsyas (Louvre Museum, Paris); Madonna during her concert in Paris, France, as part of her Confessions Tour on August 31, 2006, © Pascal Mannaerts / / CC BY-SA 3.0

About the Ronell/Reitman Case: A Roundtable

Roundtable on Friday, September 28, starting at 15:00 in room F0.21 of the Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis (Kloveniersburgwal 48)

June 10th, Brian Leiter published on his blog a leaked letter in support of Avital Ronell, professor in German and comparative literature at New York University, who was apparently under investigation for sexual harassment and assault of a PhD-student. The letter was signed by Judith Butler, Emily Apter, Jean-Luc Nancy,  Geoffrey Bennington, Slavoj Zizek, Cathy Caruth, Jonathan Culler, Hent de Vries, Joan W. Scott, Sam Weber, Shoshana Felman, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and others. Soon The New York Times reported that, after an eleven-month investigation by NYU, Ronell was found guilty of harassing her ex-student, now identified as Nimrod Reitman, and suspended for the academic year.

In a press release, Ronell stated that the “inability of Reitman to find a job … is what this case is about”; reportedly, Reitman has blamed his inability to obtain a tenure-track position on Ronell’s pro forma recommendation letters, if not outright sabotage.

In the field of queer studies, meanwhile, the case has thrown existing generational and political fissures into sharp relief. When Jack Halberstam and Lisa Duggan published reflections on the case, in which they sharply criticised the implications and consequences of sexual harassment proceedings, many accused them of minimising or bracketing the abuse of Reitman. Halberstam and Duggan have since left Twitter.

As these, and no doubt many other, interrelated issues (see below for a provisional listing) bear so strongly on our intellectual community, NICA convenes an open-format roundtable on the Ronell/Reitman case on Friday, September 28, starting at 15:00 in room F0.21 of the Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis (Kloveniersburgwal 48), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam. Everyone is invited. If you’d like to contribute a brief (5 mins.) position statement, please get in touch with Murat Aydemir through

Selected issues:

  • Sexual, emotional, professional abuse of PhD students
  • The master/apprentice structure of PhD work
  • Institutional and legal forms of complaint and redress
  • Recommendation letters, academic networks, and jobs
  • Decline and insistence of the academic ‘star’ system
  • Solidarity, collegiality, and closing ranks
  • Contraction and ‘adjunctification’ of Humanities jobs
  • Generational and political divides in gender and queer studies
  • Sexual and emotional discipline and surveillance
  • Didacticism, neoliberalism, and corporate culture
  • Queer styles and vocabularies in the academy
  • Independent scholarship and activism challenging the academy
  • Ethics of theory & deconstruction
  • Twitter scholarship, activism, politics

Selected readings: