Transformations of Trauma in the Age of Climate Change

WORKSHOP with Stef Craps (Ghent University)

Friday 22nd November, 1-4 pm.

Location: Roeterseiland E gebouw E0.22

The increasing visibility of climate change and scientists’ alarming warnings about it are taking a toll on people’s mental well-being. This lecture surveys the culturally resonant repertoire of new coinages that have emerged in recent years to name and communicate environmentally induced distress. It pays particular attention to the concept of pre-traumatic stress disorder, which has become the focus of a small but important body of humanistic scholarship calling for an expanded trauma theory that would be future- as well as past-oriented. Noting trauma theory’s persistent human-centredness, the lecture goes on to consider attempts that are being made to reconceptualize trauma in non-anthropocentric terms and to acknowledge the interconnectedness and entanglement of human and non-human traumas. It ends by predicting that cultural trauma research, which has so far shown relatively little interest in environmental issues in general and climate change in particular, will engage more fully with our dire environmental predicament in the years ahead.

Stef Craps is a professor of English literature at Ghent University, where he directs the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative. His research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary literature and culture, memory and trauma studies, postcolonial theory, and ecocriticism and environmental humanities. He is the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation (Sussex Academic Press, 2005), and a co-editor of Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (Berghahn, 2017). He has also co-edited two special issues of Studies in the Novel, on climate change fiction and postcolonial trauma novels, and one of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, on transcultural Holocaust memory. He has recently co-authored an introductory guide to the concept of trauma, which is forthcoming in Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series, and is currently guest-editing a special issue of American Imago on ecological grief.

In preparation for the workshop students read three academic chapters/articles (see reading list below); they formulate a question for Stef Craps (around 200 words), which they print and bring to the workshop.

Participation in the workshops earns RMA students 1 EC. Register by sending a mail to nica-fgw@uva.nl. Please mention your affiliation.

Reading list:

  • Craps, Stef. “Climate Change and the Art of Anticipatory Memory.” Parallax 23:4 (2017): 479-492.
  • Cunsolo, Ashlee & Karen Landman, eds. Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017. Introduction.
  • Saint-Amour, Paul. “Waiting for the Bomb to Drop.” The New York Times, 3 August 2015.

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020)

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020): “Expanded Practices of Knowing: Interdisciplinary Approaches”

Technological developments inform the ways information travels through media, turn archives into ‘dynarchives,’ and set knowledge cultures in motion. Such developments foreground the performativity of practices of sharing knowledge and the materiality of mediation; moreover, they point to the sensory, movement and embodiment as important aspects to take into account. This year’s seminar will investigate the potential of radical interdisciplinary collaborations between media and performance studies, science and the arts for understanding and developing ways of sharing information,  knowledge and expertise.  What can interdisciplinary collaboration bring to understanding the role of old and new technologies in these processes? How is interdisciplinary collaboration itself technological or at least a technique? How can it foster the development of new insights, technologies and practices?

TiM Seminar Programme (2019-2020)

*Session organized with the support of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Utrecht University.

The Transmission in Motion Seminar is a more-or-less monthly gathering of researchers and students from across disciplines. To participate, please send an email to tim@uu.nl to receive additional information and readings. RMA Students can acquire 3 EC if they attend all meetings and write blog posts after each meeting. Please register at tim@uu.nl. For more information, contact Maaike Bleeker at m.a.bleeker[a]uu.nl.

Image credits: ”Sense of Motion” by Mr. Nixter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Radical Interdisciplinarity

Radical Interdisciplinarity

NICA core course
5 EC | offered by Maaike Bleeker and Iris van der Tuin

To register, please send a motivation (1/2 page) why you would like to participate to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl. If we have too many applications, we will need to select. Be sure to specify your research master program and university. Please be aware that we expect participants to be present at all sessions, do a short presentation and write a paper.

Radical Interdisciplinarity

“A characteristic of thinking that becomes theory is that it offers striking ‘moves’ that people can use in thinking about other topics,” observes Jonathan Culler. He makes this observation in a text about a new type of theoretical writings emerging since roughly the 1960s, writings that succeeded in challenging and reorienting thinking in fields other than those to which they originally belonged. The transpositional capacity of these writings to offer striking ‘moves’ to people working in differing fields of research greatly contributed to the development of new interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities, the outlining of new objects of research, and the formation of new fields of study, like cultural studies, gender studies, visual studies, postcolonial studies. These developments have profoundly changed ways of doing research in the humanities. Reflecting about their potential as well as their theoretical and methodological implications has been at the heart of PhD training offered by ASCA and NICA from the very beginning.

In this course we look at currently emerging interdisciplinary approaches that move beyond the borders of the humanities and investigate how they may challenge and reorient our thinking. How do certain ‘moves’ offered by state-of-the-art scientific approaches lead to radically interdisciplinary endeavors, change our understanding of the object of our research, the relationships between objects and concepts, and what it is that we do when we do theory?

We will start from a discussion of performance and performativity as onto-epistemological condition (Barad) and stratum of power/knowledge (McKenzie). From there we will look at how insights from (among others) quantum physics, enactive and nonconscious cognition, as well as ways of knowing embodied in skilled bodily practice, can be mobilized for new ways of knowing, and new ways of understanding what it means to theorize.

Dates:
  • Thursday 28 November 10-13h
  • Thursday 12 December 10-13h
  • Thursday 9 January 10-13h
  • Thursday 23 January 10-13h
  • Thursday 6 February 10-13h

Maaike Bleeker is a professor in the department of Media & Culture Studies at Utrecht University. Her work engages with questions of perception, cognition and agency from an interdisciplinary perspective, with a special interest in embodiment, movement, and technology, and the performativity of meaning making and knowledge transmission. Her monograph Visuality in the Theatre was published by Palgrave. Recent publications include the co-edited volumes Performance and Phenomenology: Traditions and Transformations (Routledge, 2015), Thinking Through theatre and Performance (Bloomsbury 2019), and the edited volume Transmission in Motion. The Technologizing of Dance (Routledge, 2016).

Iris van der Tuin is professor in Theory of Cultural Inquiry and director of the School of Liberal Arts at Utrecht University (The Netherlands). She co-authored New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies (Open Humanities Press, 2012) with Rick Dolphijn, wrote Generational Feminism: New Materialist Introduction to a Generative Approach (Lexington Books, 2015), and edited Nature for Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender (Macmillan Reference USA, 2016). Iris was chair of the COST Action New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on ‘How Matter comes to Matter’ (2014-18).

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.

Aesthetics and Politics in Critical Theory

Reading Group organized by Ben Moore, Marc Farrant, and Steyn Bergs.

This reading group will explore a selection of seminal, and some lesser-known, works within twentieth and twenty-first century critical and cultural theory, with an emphasis on the intersection between the aesthetic and the political. Walter Benjamin argued in the conclusion of his ‘Work of Art’ essay of 1936 that one of the dangers of fascism is its ‘aestheticizing of politics’, and that communism must respond by ‘politicizing art’. As our contemporary political moment comes to increasingly resemble the conjuncture at which Benjamin was writing in the 1930s, we will ask how the relationship between politics and aesthetics has been theorised by thinkers since, and how we might use their work to analyse and rethink that relationship today.

We plan to meet once a month on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons for around two hours. Our first two meetings will serve as a theoretical orientation, looking at work from Jacques Rancière, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson. After that, we plan to take particular artistic forms, genres, or themes to guide our reading through the year, including comedy (Zupančič, Berlant, Ngai), cinema (Rancière, Deleuze, Eisenstein), music (Adorno) and performativity (Sedgwick). The direction of our reading is flexible however, and depends partly on the interests of the participants. The format will be open and informal. All staff and graduate students, from inside or outside the UvA, are welcome to take part. Research Masters students who take part in the group will be eligible for 2ECs via NICA.

The first meeting will take place at 16.00-18.00 on Thursday 19 September. We will discuss the Terry Eagleton’s essay ‘The Ideology of the Aesthetic’ in parallel with work by Jacques Rancière on the distribution of the sensible.

Please contact Ben Moore (B.P.Moore@uva.nl), Marc Farrant (m.farrant@gold.ac.uk) and Steyn Bergs (s.bergs@vu.nl) if you would like to attend, and to receive a pdf copy of the readings.

Decolonial Studies and Political Philosophy

NICA Core Course 6 EC

Amsterdam, 8 Sessions  1 April – 20 May 2020, Wednesdays, 9:30-12:45 hrs.
exact dates: see below.

Instructor: Yolande Jansen
Register: send an email to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl before March 15 2020. Please be sure to specify your master program and university. There is a waiting list for this course.

In the humanities, globalization has until quite recently been studied from two rather distinct perspectives: either from a postcolonial or decolonial cultural-historical perspective, or from a normative, political theoretical perspective, often rooted in the liberal and human rights traditions. Over the last years, it has been increasingly recognized by scholars from both the cultural and political-theoretical fields that integrating these perspectives would be helpful to enhance the humanities’ critical and practical potential in today’s world. Criticism of the legacies of eurocentrism and colonialism in liberalism and the human rights traditions is then combined with cutting edge political philosophical work concentrating on questions of imperialism, freedom and global justice, f.e., increasingly, on resource and environmental justice.

This course looks at the intersection of decolonial studies and normative political philosophy, and tries to address them from a relatively integrated perspective. We bring together both fields in a systematic way by testing normative theories of global justice and human rights in political philosophy against the works of liberalism’s critics from a decolonial or critical theoretical perspective.

During the first three weeks, we will read a number of articles tracing the intricacies of colonialism and liberalism, both from an intellectual historical perspective, and from a systematic political theoretical perspective. After these readings we will concentrate on contemporary work on global justice. We will then compare the two traditions and discuss whether and in what ways they could be fruitfully combined for a decolonial philosophy of global justice, and discuss the the limitations of focusing on ‘justice’.

Teaching goals
Insight into political theory about global justice
Insight into critiques of the political philosophical liberal tradition from a decolonial perspective
Enhancing the capacity to formulate integrative perspectives on the merits of both traditions of criticism for formulating perspectives on global justice that are self-reflexive about the legacies of eurocentrism and imperialism

Content
During the first three weeks, we will read a number of articles tracing the intricacies of colonialism and liberalism, both from an intellectual historical perspective, and from a systematic political theoretical perspective. After these readings we will concentrate on contemporary work on global justice.

We will then compare the two traditions and discuss whether and in what ways they could be fruitfully combined for a decolonial philosophy of global justice, and discuss the limitations of focusing on ‘justice’. The course will take the form of intensive working groups.

Readings
James Tully. (2008) Public Philosophy in a New Key, Volume II; Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Duncan Bell. (2016) Reordering the World; Essays on Liberalism and Empire. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on colonialism. Preferred edition: Monthly Review Press, NY, 1972, 2000
Charles Mills (2017) Black rights/white wrongs. The critique of racial liberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

These books will both be available through the library of the UvA (they will be on the ‘workshelf’). The books can be scanned or copied but not you cannot borrow them during the course. Other articles will be provided during the course, see below for the full list and where to find them.

Examination
For those who take credits from this course: Presentation (20%) and either (a) final paper or (b) final paper and take home exam (80%). You can choose between two options for the final exam: (a) either you choose to do a take home exam containing three questions which will be published two weeks before the deadline, together with a final paper of around 1500 words, or (b) you choose to write a final paper of around 4000 words. The deadline for both will be on 28 June at 23.59 hrs. The deadline for the resit is 8 August. The paper should be written according to basic academic standards (contain a bibliography, research question, careful argument, conclusion) but you are free to write in a mostly argumentative or a more essayistic or exploratory style.

Dates and Venue

1 April | REC C Building C3.03
8 April | REC C Building C3.03
15 April | REC B Building B 2.07
22 April | REC C Building C3.03
29 April | REC C Building C3.03
6 May | REC C Building C3.03
13 May | REC C Building C3.06
20 May | REC C Building C3.03

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.