Seminar, 1st semester (September-December), 2013-14
EC | 5
Venue | Universities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Leiden
Dates and time | Mondays October 21, November 4 and 18, December 2 and 16, 13:00-17:00. Deadline paper January 31
COURSE MANUAL: Topics
In this course, scholars from different Dutch universities (Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht) introduce and debate their latest research on a wide variety of topics.
Open for all research master students.
Participants finalize the course by writing a paper on one of the debated topics. You will receive a NICA-certificate you can formalize at your institution’s administrative office. Please note you may need advance approval by the coordinator of your program and/or the examination board of your university.
Please enroll through firstname.lastname@example.org. (Full is full.)
- Robin Celikates, Associate Professor Social and Political Philosophy, UvA
- Esther Peeren, Associate Professor Globalisation Studies, UvA
- Murat Aydemir, Associate Professor Comparative Literature, UvA
- Ernst van Alphen, Professor Literary Studies, Leiden University
- and others (to be announced)
Robin Celikates: Civil Disobedience
In the last years, civil disobedience and other practices of resistance have returned with force in the arena of politics but also in the theoretical debate. At the same time, movements such as Occupy have been criticized for failing to develop a lasting organization and for underestimating the capacity of the system to neutralize and absorb them. Some of their practices, and amongst them especially civil disobedience, are under the suspicion of being mere expressions of a helpless desire for reform that remains purely symbolic. In this session we will address questions such as the following: What was Occupy? Under what circumstances can civil disobedience be seen as an emancipatory practice? What is the relation between its symbolic dimension and its more confrontational aspects? What is the role of the concept of violence in framing political practices of resistance? Readings will include texts by Judith Butler, David Graeber, Jodi Dean, Michael Taussig, and myself.
Esther Peeren: Spectralities
Located in the ambivalent realm between life and death, ghosts and other spectral apparitions have always inspired cultural fascination as well as theoretical, philosophical and theological consideration. It was, however, with the appearance of Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx (1994) that ghosts and haunting emerged as compelling analytical and methodological tools across the humanities and social sciences. The disjunctions produced by globalization, the ungraspable quality of modern media, the convolutions of subject formation (in terms of gender, race, and sexuality), the elusiveness of spaces and places, and the lingering presences and absences of memory and history have all been reconceived in light of the so-called “spectral turn.” This session will explore the productivity of spectrality for cultural analysis and will also explore how cultural analysis itself may be considered a spectral endeavor. Readings will include the introduction from my forthcoming book The Spectral Metaphor: Living Ghosts and the Agency of Invisibility.
Ernst van Alphen: Literature and Cultural Memory
In this session the function of literature in relation to cultural memory will be discussed. During many centuries textual media were privileged as media that were best in preserving and producing cultural memory. From Horace to Shakespeare one claimed that verse as a medium is superior to great monuments in preserving memory. Whereas monuments, buildings, bronze and marble are eroded by time, literary texts defy that process.Francis Bacon expresses his believe in the literary medium as follows: “have not the verses of Homer continued twenty-five hundred years, or more, without the loss of a syllable or letter; during which time infinite palaces, temples, castles, cities, have been decayed and demolished?” This privileged position of the literary medium has, however, in the modern period radically changed. The introduction of new media, has accelerated a process that had already begun around 1800. The question is whether the literary medium has become obsolete or not as producer of cultural memory.
Murat Aydemir: Character Aesthetics
At the ending of the nineteenth century, Michel Foucault argued, the homosexual became a “character” [personnage]. The word highlights general covenant between biopower and realistic narrative, between a particular form of power and a particular aesthetic, a joint apparatus for constituting and controlling human subjects. The apparatus also comprised the requisite counterpart of the sexually authenticated modern individual: the racialized (or culturalized) non-Western other. All individuals are equals, but not all people are individuals to an equal extent. However, that once perhaps relatively simple formula of “sex for the West, race/culture for the rest” is increasingly made more complex because of the economic globalization that redistributes human “life forms” across the globe. The aggressive export of the biopolitical “character” encounters new forms of identification, affiliation, and contestation. In this session, we’ll look at the concrete aesthetic forms, modes, and devices that individualize some people while preventing (or exceeding) the individualization of others. What does it take for us to recognize and emphathize with someone as a “character”? And what are the potentials, constraints, and drawbacks of that kind of recognition? With readings by Foucault, D.A. Miller, Lynn Huffer, Christopher Bollas, and others.
Maaike Bleeker: Information
The topic of my session will be information. I will approach this topic from the perspective of my research in what I have come to term corporeal literacy. To prepare for this session,please read N. Katherine Hayles text “Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers” (available at http://www.english.ucla.edu/faculty/hayles/Flick.html). In this text, Hayles poses the following proposition: “even though information provides the basis for much of contemporary society, it is never present in itself”. Please think of two things: (1) an example of an object, text, phenomenon, … that can be related to (parts of) Hayles argument; (2) another academic text by a different author that can be related to or, brought in dialogue with, Hayles text.