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/


Oct 2 2015

On Creaturely Life

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A New Reading Group on Humanity and Animality at the University of Leeds

In the first meeting, the group will discuss the opening chapter of Eric Santner’s Creaturely Life and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Eighth Duino Elegy”. Please see the Creaturely Life webpage for links to the reading material: http://creaturelylife.tumblr.com/

3-5 pm, Wednesday, October 7th

Medical Humanities Suite

School of English

University of Leeds


Apr 16 2015

Anne-Lise Francois on Climate Change

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‘Climate Change and the Cumulus of History’

A lecture by Professor Anne-Lise Francois (University of California, Berkeley) at the University of Leeds

Anne-Lise Francois is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Her book Open Secrets: The Literature of Uncounted Experience (Stanford UP, 2007) was awarded the René Wellek prize for Comparative Literature in 2010.

Thursday, 7th May 5.15 pm.

Seminar Room 5,

School of English,

University of Leeds.

This talk is generously funded by the Leverhulme Foundation.


Jan 24 2015

Lorraine Daston to give Inaugural Northern Theory School Public Lecture

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Inaugural Rowman & Littlefield International Annual Public Lecture

‘Rules, Models, and Paradigms: Before Rules Became Rigid’

Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

Rules – in the form of everything from traffic regulations and government directives to etiquette manuals and parliamentary procedures – structure almost every human interaction. Increasing use of computers has intensified a trend that began in the eighteenth century of ever more, ever more rigid rules for ever more domains of public and private life. But the algorithm became the prototypical rule only relatively recently, in the late nineteenth century. The long history of rules prior to that point shows surprising affinities with concepts now considered to be the antithesis of rule-following, such as thinking in terms of models and paradigms. Sources as disparate as the rules of monastic orders to textbooks of commercial arithmetic to cookbooks reveal a hidden history of the premodern rule.

Professor Lorraine Daston is Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in Berlin, and Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Corresponding Member of the British Academy, and Member of both the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the Leopoldina Academy of Sciences. In 2010 she was awarded the Orden Pour le Mérite of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in 2012 the History of Science Society’s Sarton Medal.

She has taught at Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Brandeis, the University of Göttingen, and the University of Chicago and held visiting positions at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the University of Vienna, and Oxford University (Isaiah Berlin Lectures in the History of Ideas).

Her books include Classical Probability in the Enlightenment (Princeton University Press, 1988), Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (Zone, 1998, with Katharine Park), both of which were awarded the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society, Thinking with Animals (Columbia University Press, 2006, with Gregg Mitmann), Things That Talk (Zone, 2007), Objectivity (MIT, 2007, with Peter Galison) and Histories of Scientific Observation (Chicago University Press, 2011).

6.00 pm

23rd March 2015

Cavendish Colloquium Room

Faraday Building

Lancaster University

This lecture is sponsored by Rowman & Littlefield International Publishers.

Please contact Arthur Bradley (a.h.bradley@lancaster.ac.uk) to reserve a place.


Nov 7 2014

Bill Brown on Obsolescence

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‘The Obsolescence of the Human’

A Lecture by Professor Bill Brown (University of Chicago) at the University of Leeds.

This lecture will focus on questions of obsolescence in general before addressing the eagerness (in the work of Bruno Latour above all) to do away with the human/unhuman distinction.

Professor Brown is Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture at the University of Chicago and works at the intersection of literary, visual, and material cultures. He is author of, amongst other works, A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature and co-editor of Critical Enquiry.

5.00 pm

Thursday, 4th December

The Alumni Room, House 10 of The School of English.

University of Leeds  

Please contact Dr Sam Durrant at s.r.durrant@leeds.ac.uk for further information.