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/


Apr 13 2016

Risking the Future: Vulnerability, Risk, Hope

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An International Conference on the Risk Humanities

Keynote Speakers: 

Michaeline A. Crichlow (Duke University)

Simon During (University of Queensland)

Walter Mignolo (Duke University)

Risking the Future exposes a tension at the heart of contemporary thinking around risk and its effects, and in particular the role of risk in either blocking or facilitating access to possible futures. On the one hand, the phrase is cautionary, a reminder that the future is at risk and that risks have to be calculated and managed to avoid or learn to live within catastrophic circumstances. On the other hand, the phrase is hopeful, a recognition that a certain type of risk is necessary to generate a speculative opening to a future worth living. In this way, although risk manifests in complex historical and contemporary patterns across the economic, legal, ecological, social, cultural, aesthetic and political spheres, it is most urgently felt where the exercise and effects of power are tied to potential loss and gain, and where these losses and gains shape the lives of those least able to resist them.

In this light, rethinking the relation of risk and futurity suggests a tension between the calculation, management and adoption of risk on one hand, and what it actually means to live a life at risk on the other. For those living in fragile circumstances – situations in which race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion and poverty intersect in ways that render existence itself radically vulnerable; situations in which it is increasingly difficult to avoid or resist political instability, conflict, economic precarity, health crises, and ecological catastrophe – the question of risk exists at a very different intensity, and has very different implications than it does for individuals, groups and even whole societies who regard risk principally in terms of its calculation, distribution and management undertaken to guarantee continued flourishing, often in the very systems that place the vulnerable  at risk.

 We seek to bring these two paradigms of risk – of calculation and precarity – into conversation, perhaps necessarily into conflict, in order to challenge existing discourses regarding risk and its relation to the future. We seek to explore the ways in which thought might take risks in order to realign itself with those most at risk. We seek to open new and risky avenues for speculative, interdisciplinary research, reimagining the way in which risk thinking might turn an increasingly threatening vision of the future towards a politics of hope.

 We warmly invite you to submit a title and abstract of 300 words for papers of 20 minutes rethinking risk and its relation to the future from the perspective of the critical humanities and humanistic social sciences. Please include a brief biographical note of up to 200 words outlining your broader research interests.

 The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 18 April 2016 and should be emailed to fragile.futures@gmail.com.

 Suggested topics:

  • Risk and futurity: uncertainty, contingency, irreversibility, possibility
  • Fragility, vulnerability, precarity and the precariat
  • Hope, resistance, commitment
  • Kinopolitics: displacement, migration, perilous crossings, border thinking
  • Spaces of risk: thresholds, boundaries, containment, camps
  • Decolonial aesthetics and politics
  • Aesthetics of risk: representing, mediating and performing the future
  • Freedom and unfreedom: open futures, blocked futures
  • Existential risk: threat, conflict, poverty, disposability
  • Accumulation by dispossession: capitalism and risk, risking capitalism
  • Markets: distribution, flow, asymmetry, crisis
  • Sexualities, genders, queer ecologies, queer futures
  • Systemic edges: peripheries of/at risk, belonging and non-belonging, inclusion and exclusion
  • Ecologies of/at risk: environmental anxiety, slow violence, ruination, catastrophe
  • Histories and futures of risk: opportunity, intervention, invention, reinvention

St John’s College

Durham University

12th-13th July 2016


Jun 8 2015

Futures of the Archive: Theory, Criticism, Crisis

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A new book series from Rowman and Littlefield International in partnership with the Northern Theory School

Edited by Arthur Bradley (Lancaster University) and Simon Swift (University of Geneva)

What will be the future of critical theory’s past? This new series offers a set of radical interdisciplinary interventions which explore how the history of critical theory can contribute to an understanding of the contemporary.

By returning to classic critical debates in philosophy, politics, aesthetics, religion and more, the volumes in this series seek to provide a new insight into the crises of our present moment: capitalism, revolution, biopolitics, human rights, the animal and the anthropocene.

In this way, Futures of the Archive shows that the past – and in particular critical theory’s own past – is not a dead letter, but an archive to which we still belong and which continues to shape our present and future.

International Advisory Board: 

Robert Appelbaum (University of Uppsala)

Howard Caygill (Kingston University)

Terry Eagleton (Lancaster University)

Paul Hamilton (Queen Mary, University of London)

J. Hillis Miller (University of California at Irvine)

Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent)

Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of East Anglia)

Rei Terada (University of California at Irvine)

Samuel Weber (Northwestern University)

In order to discuss or propose a submission, please contact Arthur Bradley and Simon Swift.


Apr 5 2014

Getting Over Freud

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Reading and Interpretation: Getting Over Freud is a discussion group for staff and postgraduate students interested in questions about how we read literature.

This series of seminars will look at contemporary writers, such as Martin Hägglund and Adam Phillips, who have challenged our strategies of reading and ways of interpreting everything from death and dreams to sex and selfhood. The focus of discussion will be topics such as: should we read for surface or for depth? Does a text have an unconscious? And do texts say what they mean or mean what they say? We might all be reading after Freud, but the thinkers this series will explore are all getting one over, getting out from under, or getting (a leg) over Freudian modes of interpretation.

In the next meeting, Dr Ziad Elmarsafy (University of York) will be introducing a seminar looking at Edward Said as a reader, focusing on the essay ‘Secular Criticism’ from The World, the Text, and the Critic. Dr Elmarsafy, a Reader in the English Department at the University of York, is the author of The Enlightenment Qur’an (2009) and Sufism in the Contemporary Arabic Novel (2012), and co-editor of Debating Orientalism (2013) and the forthcoming collection What Postcolonial Theory Doesn’t Say.

Future speakers include: Professor Hugh Haughton (introducing three essays by Adam Phillips); Professor Derek Attridge, (introducing a chapter from his forthcoming book, The Work of Literature) and Dr Nicholas Ray (introducing Jean Laplanche’s essay, ‘The Unfinished Copernican Revolution’). Please see Events page for further details.

Monday, 5th May, 6:30pm.

Room BS/007, Berrick Saul Building, Heslington West Campus, University of York.

For more information and copies of readings, please contact Alex Alonso (aa611@york.ac.uk) or Doug Battersby (djmb501@york.ac.uk).

Interested staff and postgraduate students from all universities are welcome to attend.