Nov 22 2018

Futures of Sacrifice

Stroumsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Futures of Sacrifice: Sacrifice, Martyrdom, Self-Immolation

An International Symposium with Guy G. Stroumsa

Keynote speakers:

Terry Eagleton (Lancaster University)

Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent)

Guy G. Stroumsa (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

In one very literal sense, philosophy begins with an act of self-sacrifice: the death of Socrates. It is all the more remarkable, then, that modern thought seems to find little or no place whatsoever for sacrifice. As many scholars have documented, liberal political philosophy’s foundational claim is the so-called natural law or right of self-preservation: human beings want to preserve their biological existence for as long as possible and the highest good of any form of political state is to protect and sustain that existence. To re-read the canonical signatures of modern liberalism from Thomas Hobbes to John Locke, then, we this find (despite or because of their many differences) a common aim to abolish, exclude – or even paradoxically sacrifice – sacrifice itself: the very idea of sacrificing life to some higher good than biological existence is apparently no longer thinkable. If liberalism thus seems to constitute the political euthanasia of sacrifice itself – the painless putting-out-of-its-misery of an eldery relative who has outlived her usefulness – sacrifice nonetheless refuses to die or disappear. In his recent book Radical Sacrifice, Terry Eagleton concludes that ’revolution is a modern version of what the ancient world knew as sacrifice’. This international symposium gathers together a range of scholars from the disciplines of philosophy, theology and politics – including the renowned historian of religion Guy G. Stroumsa – to consider the past, present and future of sacrifice.

Guy G. Stroumsa is Martin Buber Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Emeritus Professor of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at the University of Oxford. He is the author of many works on comparative religion from late antiquity to modernity including The Making of the Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2015) and The Scriptural Universe of Ancient Christianity (Harvard, 2016). In 2010, his lectures at the College de France were translated into English as The End of Sacrifice with Chicago University Press.

Friday 30th November

Ruskin Library and Research Centre

Lancaster University

 

 


Apr 27 2018

Just Between Us: A Workshop on Gender and Intersubjectivity

intersubjectivity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A workshop, introduced by Anna Yeatman (Western Syndney University) and Alison Stone (Lancaster University), with some inital questions by Laurence Hemming (Lancaster University).

Anna Yeatman FASSA, is Professor in the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney. Her background is in political and social thought, and she has led public policy evaluati0ns in the human services. Her published work has focused on the impact of managerialism and neoliberalism on social and life and practice. She has also published on intersubjectivity and freedom, and feminism and the technological age.

Alison Stone is Professor of European Philosophy at Lancaster University. She is the author of Luce Irigaray and the Philosophy of Sexual Difference (Cambridge, 2006), Feminism, Psychoanalysis and Maternal Subjectivity (Routledge, 2011) as well as an introductory textbook on feminist philosophy.

Laurence Hemming is Research Professor in the Departments of Politics, Philosophy and Religion and Organisation, Work and Technology at Lancaster University. In 2016, he gave 5 lectures entitled ‘You and Me: Thinking Being Together’ at the Northern Theory School in Lancaster. He has written extensively on Martin Heidegger and recently published (with Bogdan Costea) a translation of Ernst Jünger’s The Worker.

Tuesday 8th May 5pm-6.30pm

Charles Carter A17

Lancaster University

All Welcome


Jan 15 2018

Miguel de Beistegui to give Northern Theory School Annual Public Lecture

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‘The Government of Desire: A Genealogy of the Liberal Subject’

Miguel de Beistegui (University of Warwick)

Whether as economic interest, sexual drive, or the basic longing for recognition, desire is accepted as a core component of our modern self-identities, and something we need to cultivate. But this has not been true in all times and all places. For centuries, as far back as late antiquity and early Christianity, philosophers believed that desire was an impulse that needed to be suppressed in order for the good life, whether personal or collective, ethical or political, to flourish.  Though we now take it for granted, it was only in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that the naturalization of desire took place, and the pillars of the liberal self and form of government were erected.

By critically exploring Foucault’s claim that Western civilization is a civilization of desire, de Beistegui crafts a provocative and original genealogy of this shift in thinking. He shows how the relationship between identity, desire, and governance has been harnessed and transformed in the modern world, shaping our relations with others and ourselves, and establishing desire as an essential driving force for the constitution of a new and better social order. But is it? The Government of Desire argues that this is precisely what a contemporary politics of resistance must seek to overcome, questioning the supposed universality of a politics based on recognition and the economic satisfaction of desire. Relying on Foucault as well as on Deleuze and Guattari, de Beistegui highlights the need to elaborate a politics of difference and creation, raising the crucial question of how we can manage to be less governed today and positing strategic questions of possible contemporary forms of counter-conduct.

Miguel de Beistegui is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick. He specializes in twentieth-century German and French philosophy, and has published books and articles on topics including ontology, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, and politics. His most recent books include Proust as Philosopher: The Art of Metaphor and Aesthetics After Metaphysics: From Mimesis to Metaphor.

With responses by Arthur Bradley (Lancaster), Antonio Cerella (Kingston University) and Michael Dillon (Lancaster University)

4-6 pm

Management School Lecture Theatre 09

21st March 2018

All Welcome


Aug 18 2017

Robert Appelbaum on Violence

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The Aesthetics of Violence:

Art, Fiction, Drama and Film

By Robert Appelbaum

Futures of the Archive: Theory, Criticism, Crisis

Publication Date: Dec 2017

Violence at an aesthetic remove from the spectator or reader has been a key element of narrative and visual arts since Greek antiquity. Here Robert Appelbaum explores the nature of mimesis, aggression, the affects of antagonism and victimization and the political uses of art throughout history. He examines how violence in art is formed, contextualised and used by its audiences and readers. Bringing traditional German aesthetic and social theory to bear on the modern problem of violence in art, Appelbaum engages theorists including Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Adorno and Gadamer. The book takes the reader from Homer and Shakespeare to slasher films and performance art, showing how violence becomes at once a language, a motive, and an idea in the experience of art. It addresses the controversies head on, taking a nuanced view of the subject, understanding that art can damage as well as redeem. But it concludes by showing that violence (in the real world) is a necessary condition of art (in the world of mimetic play).

We are always, writes Appelbaum, “being made to know of it – the slap, the abuse, the threat.” And Applebaum certainly knows of it – violence, that is. He knows of it, above all, as art knows of it – that is to say, from the inside of it. The very ‘rhythm of violence,’ as Appelbaum calls it, can here be felt.

John Schad, Professor of Modern Literature, University of Lancaster

Robert Appelbaum is Professor of English Literature at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is the author of Literature and Utopian Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (2002), Dishing It Out (2011), Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption (2014) and Terrorism Before the Letter: the Mythography of Political Violence in England, Scotland and France (2015).

 


Apr 16 2017

Futures of Political Theology: Nomos, Demos, Pseudos

Daniel_4_Beasts

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An International Symposium at Kingston University

Keynote speaker: Elettra Stimilli (University of Rome La Sapienza)

Upon the occasion of some strange or deformed birth, it shall not be decided by Aristotle, or the philosophers, whether the same be a man or no, but by the laws - Thomas Hobbes, The Elements of Law Natural and Politic.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? – W.B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’

What – strange, deformed, beastly – species of political order is struggling to be born today? To be sure, political praxis and theory has sought to narrate the history of the contemporary from the financial crash of 2008 to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 in many different and competing ways. In the early 21st century, we are said to be witnessing everything from the death of liberalism, globalization and internationalism to the birth of a new extreme populism, protectionism and isolationism – all presided over by a new kind of Demogorgon (people-monster).

Yet, what arguably makes our current crisis so difficult to name is that it is not merely a political crisis but a crisis of the political – of the particular triangulation between truth, authority and representation that has dominated politics since the early modern period. If we are experiencing a new set of constitutional crises in Europe, America and elsewhere – between executive, legislature and judiciary, between national and transnational sovereignty and more widely between representative and direct democracy – it is perhaps because they reflect a larger and more profound political dissensus about who or what – if anyone – has the authority to decide upon truth. In this sense, contemporary media controversies – ‘post-truth’, ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ – are merely a symptom of a much deeper political ontological pathology where nomos, demos and pseudos meet and clash.

This international symposium gather together a group of distinguished interdisciplinary scholars – including philosophers, political theorists, theologians and cultural critics – to explore not simply the future of political theology but the political theology of the future. What can the conceptual resources of political theology – the messianic, the apocalyptic, the eschatological and so on – contribute to a re-thinking of the future? How might political theology intervene in, and re-imagine, our contemporary crises of truth, authority, representation, economy, populism and so on? What might a political theology of the 21st century look like?

Elettra Stimilli is Senior Research Fellow of theoretical philosophy at the Department of Philosophy at Sapienza University of Rome. She is also editor-in-chief of the series “Filosofia e Politica”, published by Quodlibet (Macerata). She is author of numerous essays that focus on the relationship between politics and religion, with particular attention to contemporary thought. Among her publications are Debito e colpa (2015) and the only existing monograph on Jacob Taubes: Jacob Taubes. Sovranità e tempo messianico (2004). She also translated into Italian and edited many works of this author, in particular Jacob Taubes, Der Preis des Messianismus: Briefe von Jacob Taubes an Gershom Scholem und andere Materialen (2006). Her new book The Debt of the Living. Ascesis and Capitalism (2017) has just been published by SUNY Press.

Speakers: Ward Blanton (University of Kent); Arthur Bradley (Lancaster University); Antonio Cerella (Kingston University); Michael Dillon (Lancaster University); Howard Caygill (Kingston University); Dario Gentile (University of Rome 3); Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent); Tracy B. Strong (UCSD/University of Southampton); Richard Wilson (Kingston University)

9.00 am – 7.30 pm

2 June 2017

Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, John Galsworthy building, Room 003

For more information email: A.Cerella@kingston.ac.uk


Mar 19 2017

Literature and Inequality

inequality (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An international Conference on Culture, Society and Economy

‘We wish, in a word, equality.’ – Mikhail Bakunin

Keynote speakers:

Jennifer Ashton (University of Illinois-Chicago)

Walter Ben Michaels (University of Illinois-Chicago)

Jane Elliott (King’s College London)

Annie Mcclanahan (University of California, Irvine)

Kenneth Warren (University of Chicago)

To call economic inequality a ‘problem’ is probably to say too little about it. Equality is not just a function of modern life, which may fail to work under certain conditions. Equality is a horizon of expectation. What then makes advanced contemporary society, especially in nations like the US and UK, so economically unequal? Certainly there are conditions of the market since the Second World War, despite all its successes, that have operated against equality – not as a failure of capitalism but as an expression of its nature. This was observed as early as 1958 by John Kenneth Galbraith and 1970 by Jean Baudrillard. It has recently become a dominant theoretical postulate since the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century (2013).

Does literature have anything to do with this? Does it have something to so with creating a culture where inequality has been increasingly tolerated, or even promoted? Does it have something to do with the effacement of that horizon of expectation of an equality to come?  Or has literature been a force of resistance or a zone of neutral alterity? Is it fair even to ask of literature and literary studies that they address the problem of economic inequality? We know about reformers like Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell. But where are the reformers now? Is anybody listening? Does it matter? ‘The entire U.S. school system, from pre-K up’, wrote Walter Benn Michaels a decade ago’ ‘is structured from the very start to enable the rich to out-compete the poor, which is to say, the race is fixed’. Since then the gap between the rich and everyone else has only grown in most of the developed world, even in Sweden, and we critics and teachers find ourselves complicit in one of the main institutions of economic and cultural division. Our interest in this conference is manifold: first, in the representation of economic relations in literature, and what it may or may not have to tell us; second, in the institutions of literary production, and how they work in relation to economic inequality; third, in the institutions of higher education, which promote cultural aspiration at the expense of inequality; fourth, in the history of all this, going back to the origins of capitalism.

We invite proposals for presentations of up to 20 minutes on literature and theory in any language. The conference language is English. Proposals about any period since 1550 are welcome. We are especially interested in inequality in the context of modern economies, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, and seeing how literature has adapted to changes in productive powers and the distributions of income. We also welcome contributions on subjects related to literature – from film and TV to Internet writing. A limited amount of funding is available for all participants to help cover travel and accommodation costs.

Submissions of up to 500 words including biographical information should be sent by 1 May 2017 to the conference organisers:

Robert Appelbaum: robert.appelbaum@engelska.uu.se

Roberto del Valle Alcalá: roberto.valle@engelska.uu.se

For more information about the conference, please go to: https://reg.akademikonferens.se/app/netattm/attendee/page/55841

Uppsala University

Sweden

26-28 October

 


Dec 12 2016

What is the Contemporary?

Unknown

Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

A launch event for contemporary@lancaster, a new research centre for contemporary writing and thought at Lancaster University

‘Of whom and of what are we contemporaries? What does it mean to be contemporary?’

 —Giorgio Agamben’s “What Is the Contemporary?” from What is an Apparatus? and Other Essays, trans. David Kishik and Stefan Pedatella (Stanford University Press, 2009).

 2.00 pm Terry Eagleton (Lancaster), ‘The Swindle of the Contemporary’

3.00 pm Break

3.15 pm Michael Greaney (Lancaster), ””How soon is now?”: The contemporaneity of Never Let Me Go

Muren Zhang (Lancaster), ”The Temporality of Neo-Victorianism: Looking Backward, Moving Forward’

Lynne Pearce (Lancaster), ‘Driving, thinking, dreaming  . . . and the case against Driverless Cars’

4.30 pm Mark Currie (QMUL) ‘Contingency in Contemporary Writing’

5. 30 pm Close

Mark Currie is Professor of Contemporary Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. His research focuses on the theory of narrative, on literary theory, and on contemporary fiction. His recent publications include The Invention of Deconstruction (2013), About Time (2007, 2011) and The Unexpected (2013) and he is currently working on a new book on contingency in contemporary literature.

Terry Eagleton is Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University. He is the author of more than 40 books including most recently The Event of Literature (2012), Culture and the Death of God (2014), Hope without Optimism (2015) and Culture (2016).

1st February 2017

Peter Scott Gallery

Lancaster University

All Welcome


Dec 1 2016

Postcolonial and World Literature

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A new postcolonial and world literature and cultures reading group at the University of Leeds.

This new reading, film and discussion group at the University of Leeds aims to bring together researchers to discuss landmark publications and non-canonical contributions alongside current, pioneering work in the fields of postcolonial literature and theory, world literature and world-culture. Beyond the focus on theory, we will share texts and cultural products to enable us to develop our understanding of major pieces of work, in a creative and stimulating space. This group is aligned with Leeds’ Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, as well as the newly-founded Centre for World Literatures.

Founded in November 2016, we meet several times a semester. We hope this research group will become a focal point for researchers to hear opinions on their work, develop their thinking on certain issues, or simply to acquaint themselves further with the debates within postcolonial studies and world literature.

All are welcome to join the discussion for intellectual debate and the exchange of ideas in a convivial setting.

Please see the website for  further details: https://leedspocoworldlit.wordpress.com/


Jun 19 2016

The Body of War: Drones and Lone Wolves

anti-drone-burqa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An International Symposium on the future of war at Lancaster University

Keynote speaker:

Derek Gregory (Peter Wall Distinguished Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia)

13 November 2015: three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris, killing themselves and a bystander, and triggering a series of violent actions that caused 130 casualties.

15 November 2015: the President of France, François Hollande, after defying the attacks ‘an act of war’ by the Islamic State, launched a three-month state of emergency and ‘Opération Chammal’, a huge airstrike campaign against ISIL targets in Syria.

These two violent actions design a deformed and limitless theater of war, within which all distinctions and limitations elaborated by International Law seem to disappear. It is not merely the loss of the fundamental distinction between combatants and civilians, that both suicide bombers and airstrike bombings signal. In the current situation, all the fundamental principles that gave birth to the Laws of War seem to collapse: spatial and temporal limitations of hostilities, proportionality of military actions, discrimination of targets, weapons and just methods to use them. In this way, the ‘enemy’, from a juridical concept, is transformed into an ‘ideological object’; his figure, pushed to a climax from both these ‘invisible’ and ‘mobile’ fronts, becomes absolute and de-humanized. Hollande, Cameron and Obama’s unwillingness to use ground troops against the ‘uncivilized’ (Kerry 2015) is mirrored by the ISIL call to intensify suicide missions against the ‘cowards’ (Dābiq, 12: 2015).

But what lies behind the asymmetric confrontation between airstrikes and ‘humanstrikes’, behind the blurring of the distinction between the state of war and state of peace? What notion of humanity are the physical disengagement of the Western powers (with their tele-killing via drones and airstrikes) and the physical engagement of suicide bombers (ready to turn their bodies into a weapon) trying to convey? In other words, how and to what extent is there a connection between the automatization and biopoliticization of war operated by Western powers and the sacrificial nature of the conflict adopted by those who want to fight these powers?

In this symposium, our intention is to explore these questions in order to map the crucial transformations of warfare, of its ethical principles and methods of engagement. We invite potential participants to submit abstracts drawing upon, but not limited to, such issues as:

  • Theatres of War: The New Spatialities and Temporalities of Warfare
  • Mirror Images? Drones vs. Suicide Bombers
  • Phenomenology of Drones
  • New Perspectives on Ethics, Horror & Terror
  • The Ubiquity of the Enemy: Lone Wolves and Self-Representing Terror
  • The Collapse of International Law: What Enemy? Which Proportionality?
  • The Body as a Weapon: The Immanentization of Martyrdom
  • Phenomenology of Lone Wolves
  • The End of Law: Rethinking Limitation, Proportionality and Discrimination

Please send abstracts of 250 words by August 15th 2016 to bisagroup.cript@gmail.com. If accepted, participants will be expected to submit the full paper by October 15th 2016.

Lancaster University

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

24th-25th November, 2016

This conference is generously funded by the British Association of International Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Lancaster University) and the Institute of Social Futures (Lancaster University).

Image: Adam Harvey, Anti-Drone Burqa


May 6 2016

Critical Theory and Life: Ethics, Religion, Ecology

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A Conference Universitaire de Suisse Occidentale doctoral workshop at the University of Geneva 

Speakers:

Ann-Lise Francois (University of California, Berkeley)

Arthur Bradley (Lancaster University)

This one-day doctoral workshop aims to examine the situation of theoretical work in English studies in the early Twenty-First Century. Despite millennial proclamations of the ‘death of theory,’ critical theory remains alive and kicking. Indeed, the status of ‘life’ and ‘the living’ are key areas of contemporary theoretical interest. The continued need for theory in our era is often read as part of a larger ‘ethical turn’ in philosophy, but a range of questions about ‘life’ might provide a more politically-pertinent way of imagining this need. Such an interest stretches from a concern with the possible futures for biological life on earth in the era of the anthropocene, through to the rediscovered interest in political theology and biopolitics (or the politicization of life) in our era. These concerns and interests find theirhistorical place in the context of increasingly urgent modes of address to the diminished possibilities and hopes for everyday life post-2008, and they articulate the ways in which the very affective states of hope and optimism, as well as economic practices of enclosure and reserve that bind bodies to the political economies of the western world have become, to quote Lauren Berlant, ‘cruel.’ The day will be book-ended by interventions from our two speakers, whose work addresses in profoundly distinctive ways different aspects of these turns in recent theory. Each participant will also be invited to select a theoretical text that has shaped their way of reading literature, and to describe the impact of that text on their own work. Short excerpts from each text will be circulated to all participants beforehand. Our keynotes will be asked to do likewise, and in the morning, a reading group will be organised around their chosen texts. In the afternoon, doctoral students will be invited to present their work in progress, and to articulate the ways in which their work can be seen to be in dialogue with the theme of the workshop. The aim of the workshop is to be as inclusive as possible-it is not meant solely for those working on different aspects of critical theory or contemporary literature (while participants working in these areas will of course be extremely welcome). Indeed, the very fact that this workshop aims to examine theory in the context of a history of the present invites a range of responses. Those working on, say, early modern or Medieval religion, or on the body/affect, or those who simply want to get up to speed with current trends in theory, and to connect their own work with it, are very welcome.

10.00-5.30 May 26th 2016

University of Geneva

Conference Universitaire de Suisse Occidentale

Register at: https://english.cuso.ch/upcoming-modules/