Memory, Word and Image: W.G. Sebald’s Artistic Legacies

Seminar taught by Prof.Dr. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes and Dr. Ilse van Rijn

Amsterdam, 6 December (Pre-meeting), 12-14 December (Conference), 16 December (post-meeting), 2019

Artists tend to work across disciplines and “art cannot be disciplined” (Hito Steyerl). Taking the case of W.G. Sebald’s interdisciplinary word and image practice on memory and presences of (migratory) lives as touchstone for our discussions, this conference seeks to foster academic, professional, artistic and public scholarship by exploring cutting-edge interdisciplinary research, findings, techniques, practices and theoretical advances in the areas of memory, word and image. Which role do art and literature play in this regard?

In order to deepen our understanding of writing with images (a key question in e.g. artistic research) and how it intersects with questions of memory, participants of the seminar will actively participate in the international conference 12-14 December 2019. The conference is the core activity in this NICA course; up-to-date details can be found at:

This seminar is meant for all researchers interested in word and image matters, whether from a literary, cultural analysis, art history or other vantage point.

In a pre-meeting with Mia Lerm Hayes on Friday 6 December, students are asked to relate the conference’s themes to their own research and motivate their plans for which of the parallel sessions and/or workshops they will attend. They will read at least one of Sebald’s major novels and prepare the conference keynote by James Elkins (details below) by consulting, where much primary and secondary literature are given. Art students of ‘Approaching Language,’ Sandberg Instituut, join university students, the course thus conceptually questioning the traditional separation between image and language, practice and theory, as does Sebald’s work.

On 16 December, the Monday after the conference, students will reflect on their findings in a morning workshop taught by Ilse van Rijn. This session is followed by a discussion with James Elkins in the afternoon. For these Monday encounters, students are asked to prepare (on basis of the pre-meeting) a page that relates their own projects to the matters of discussion (or Elkins’ work more broadly), leading to a question for Elkins to address at the meeting.

Finally, students will write a short reflection on their learning during the conference and meeting with Elkins, to be commented on with feedback by the teachers.

James Elkins : Models For Word and Image: From Rodenbach to Fernandez Mallo

Keynote Abstract:

The prevalence of Sebald in studies of fictional narratives that incorporate images has led to a lack of theorization of other practices. Sebald’s practice is generally to anchor the image in its surrounding text in such a way that the reader is led up to, into, and past the image with minimal interruption in the flow of reading. In that way his narratives can explore continuous paths of memory on which images are passing waystations. It is also possible to permit images to slow the narrative, or to draw readers repeatedly back to the images, or to use images to cast doubt on the narrator or the narration. I will compare Sebald’s practices to what can be found in Georges Rodenbach, Breton, Tan Lin, Anne Carson, Christian Bök, Fernandez Mallo, Philipp Weiss, and others, in order to suggest that Sebald is only one example of a long discontinuous history of writing on images.

James Elkins is C. Chadbourne Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism (1989). BA, cum laude, 1977, Cornell University; MFA and MA, 1983, and PhD with honors, 1989, University of Chicago. Books:Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings; Chinese Landscape Painting as Western Art History; Pictures of the Body: Pain and Metamorphosis; The Domain of Images; How to Use Your Eyes; What Painting Is; The Poetics of Perspective; The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing; Why are our Pictures Puzzles?; On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them; What Happened to Art Criticism?; Six Stories from the End of Representation; Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction; What Photography Is; Art Critiques: A Guide.

Register by sending an email to Eloe Kingma at The seminar can host up to 10 participants and admission is on a first come, first in basis. For full participation and the written reflection you may earn 3 EC.


Decolonizing & Indigenizing Justice: Confronting Colonial Injustice in an “Age of Reconciliation”?

NICA Masterclass with Patricia Barkaskas (Instructor & Director Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, University of British Columbia)

For: (research) master students / PhD candidates

Date: Friday, November 1, 2019
Time: 10:00-12:00
Location: University Library (Potgieterzaal), Singel 425, Amsterdam

While much academic and public discourse since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Final Report has and continues to emphasize reconciliation, there is also deep skepticism about a process of reconciling that so readily glosses over truth-telling about the history of genocide in Canada. More recently, the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls found “human rights and Indigenous rights abuses committed and condoned by the Canadian state represent genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” This truth disrupts the notion that we have entered an “Age of Reconciliation” and challenges us to consider how we will meaningful address the ongoing colonial project in Canada and reframe reconciliation to consider meaningful justice for Indigenous peoples, communities – urban, rural, and reserve – and Nations.

Grounded in the work of experiential teaching and learning about justice utilizing decolonial and Indigenous methodology and pedagogy at the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, this masterclass considers questions connected to the project of a decolonial resistance pedagogy, and its significance in Canada for the project of decolonizing and Indigenizing justice.

Required Reading:

-Barkaskas, Patricia and Buhler, Sarah. “Beyond Reconciliation: Decolonizing Clinical Legal Education.” Journal of Law and Social Policy 26. (2017): 1-20.

-Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada – Calls to Action (

-National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Calls for Justice (


Patricia M. Barkaskas is Métis from Alberta. Her research focuses on the intersection of justice and law, including access to justice, clinical legal education, and decolonizing and Indigenizing law. She is particularly interested in examining the value of Indigenous pedagogies in experiential learning, clinical legal education, and skills-based legal training, and disrupting the normative violence of colonial legal education.

Patricia is the Director of the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, which is located in the Downtown Eastside community of Vancouver on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. The ICLC welcomes up to thirty law students a year who provide free legal services to the Indigenous community in the Lower Mainland and throughout the province.  Students are taught through hands-on experience conducting legal work on client files, including legal research, submissions, and court appearances. Professor Barkaskas is also faculty lead for the law school’s Indigenous Cultural Competency Certificate, launched in September 2018. The ICCC is an eight-month non-credit certificate course that assists students in developing better understandings of colonial assumptions, beliefs, and biases that form the foundation of the Canadian legal system, the history of colonial practices and policies in Canada, Indigenous perspectives on law, and what decolonization means for the practice of law.

Before attending law school, Professor Barkaskas earned a M.A. in History, with a focus on Indigenous histories in North America, and worked for Residential school survivors as an historical legal researcher for the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. As part of her J.D., she completed a Law and Social Justice Specialization. After receiving her law degree from UBC, she practiced in the areas of child protection (as parent’s counsel), criminal, family, civil litigation, and prison law. She has written Gladue reports for all levels of court in BC.

Cultural Studies Now

Cultural Studies Now
As Cultural Studies emerged in the early 1960s, perhaps its most pressing call was for academic knowledge to relate actively to the present socio-political situation or ‘conjuncture.’ In that vein, this course aims to revisit and, if necessary, criticize and update the canonical concerns and priorities of the field. What did crucial terms such as identity politics, interdisciplinarity, and popular culture mean in the 1960s, and what can they still mean today, a time when so much once-progressive notions may seem obsolete or co-opted by power? In this course, we revisit the main areas of concern for Cultural Studies – revolving on conjuncture, (identity) politics, reality, interdisciplinarity, and (popular) culture — in relation to current developments. Should Cultural Studies maintain a certain canonical or disciplinary form, or fundamentally adapt to changed and changing circumstances? With key readings by Stuart Hall, Mieke Bal, Paul Smith, Lawrence Grossberg, Asad Haidar, Nancy Fraser, and others.

Instructor: Murat Aydemir (

Time and Place: Tuesdays, from October 29 to December 10, 13:00-16:00. See below.

Registration is open from 15 September 2019. Registration is limited to 25 participants.

Register by sending an e-mail to Eloe Kingma at Please be sure to specify your research master program and university.


29 October 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK | REC JK B.52

5 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK | REC JK B.52

12 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00  | Roeterseiland Building JK | REC JK 3.38A 

19 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK |  REC JK 3.38A

26 November 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building C | REC C K.07 

3 December 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building JK |  REC JK 3.38A 

10 December 2019 | 13:00  16:00 | Roeterseiland Building C | REC C K.07 



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 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.

  • 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.

Sustainability: Technocracy and Meditation

ASCA Political Ecologies Workshop & Environmental Humanities Center, CLUE+, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Public Talk (University of Amsterdam, P.C. Hoofthuis 1.05, 5-7pm) and
Masterclass (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, OZW-building, room 7A-07, 10-12am) on September 20th, 2019: Allan Stoekl (Penn State University)

In my talk, I will discuss two approaches to thinking about “sustainability.” The first is “technocratic sustainability.” I’ll discuss the “Technocracy Inc.” movement of the United States of the 1930s which imagined a utopian resolution to the economy by replacing labour with energy in the calculation of value. One of Technocracy’s primary thinkers, M. King Hubbert, would go on to forecast “peak oil” which figures so prominently in the discourse of sustainability.

Then I consider the ontological and political difference between consuming and spending. Following Georges Bataille, I will argue that we have an innate tendency to expend, but one more in consonance with the “economy of the universe”; one which recognizes the “limits to growth” not through austerity but through the inevitable burn-off of surpluses. Spending in this sense is tied not to just consuming stuff, but to consuming the very limits of our selves—the very limits we protect and affirm in capitalist consumption.

Hence the importance of E. F. Schumacher’s “Buddhist economics,” which at first sight may seem a mere bit of New Age faddism. In fact the crucial link (not explored by Schumacher) is between economics, both human, planetary, and of the universe, and the most basic “tendency to expend” that characterizes not only living systems, but the signifying systems of human communities. These communities necessarily turn around religious practices, and most importantly, meditative ones. 

By linking a no-growth “Buddhist economics” to Bataille’s theories of expenditure, we can start to imagine a theory of sustainability that will avoid the pitfalls of the technocratic approach.

Bio: Allan Stoekl is emeritus professor of French and Comparative Literature at Penn State University, and is currently Visiting Scholar in the Architecture Dept. at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written widely on twentieth century French intellectual history, and, more recently, on questions of energy use and expenditure in a cultural context (Bataille’s Peak: Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability [2007]). He is currently at work on a book on what he deems to be three varieties of sustainability, which may or may not be compatible.


Readings for Masterclass from 10-12 at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, OZW-building, room 7A-07:

  1. Technocracy Study Guide (1940)
  2. Robert Costanza, “Visions, Values, Valuation, and the Need for an Ecological Economics: All scientific analysis is based on a ‘preanalytic vision,’ and the major source of uncertainty about current environmental policies results from differences in visions and world views.” (2001)
  3. Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, Vol. 1 (1949)
  4. ——- Inner Experience (1943)
  5. E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. (1973)

All reading can be found here:

Please register for the Masterclass using the form on website of the Environmental Humanities Center


For more information email

Jeff Diamanti (UvA):

Joost de Bloois (UvA):

Kristine Steenbergh (EHC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):