Theorizing @ Penn

Theorizing

An experimental forum for thinking through literature, philosophy, and culture beyond disciplinary boundaries.
Founded and organized by students at the University of Pennsylvania since 1996, Theorizing is a non-profit lecture series. The program is coordinated by graduate students in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.

Our coordinators for 2012-2013 are Avi Alpert, Devorah Fischler, Alison Howard, Joseph Lavery, Joe Liew, Clifford Mak, Jessica Rosenberg, and Daniela Tanner Hernandez.

Our series is made possible by the generous support of the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory and our many generous departmental and institutional co-sponsors.

2012‑2013 lecture series #archive

{ Click events for descriptions }

archive

Peter
Nicholls

Thursday, April 18, 12:00pm
Houston Hall 218 (Ben Franklin Room)


Lunch will be provided
Free and open to the public

Skeptics, cynics, & pessimists:
a pre-history of modernism

In earlier work on modernism, I’ve suggested that one distinctive feature of the new writing, from Baudelaire on, is a handling of irony to secure certain kinds of social distance. In this paper, I want to complicate that argument and to track some of the implications of the connected terms of my title in the period before modernism. Main reference points here are likely to be texts by Leopardi, Melville, and Mallarmé.

Peter Nicholls is Professor of English at New York University. His publications include Ezra Pound: Politics, Economics and Writing, Modernisms: A Literary Guide, George Oppen and the Fate of Modernism, and many articles and essays on literature and theory. He has recently edited On Bathos with Sara Crangle, and is currently US associate editor of Textual Practice.

cancelled

Naomi
Waltham-Smith

This talk has been cancelled.

Romantic Genius, Intellectual Property & Auctoritas: Haydn's Celebrity

What is authorship, and how might it take place in the event of music-making and listening? Specifically in their use of highly conventionalized musical materials and engaging orchestral effects, Haydn’s London symphonies ensure that a Haydn-personality comes into being only with the listening encounter, mirroring the structure of auctoritas in Roman law, as recently analyzed by Giorgio Agamben.

Naomi Waltham-Smith is an Assistant Professor in Music Theory at Penn. She is currently writing a book on "Music and Belonging Between Restoration and Revolution," which situates music within a larger social, political and aesthetic "crisis of belonging" and traces the connections between the twin notions of belonging as ownership and belonging as inclusion in a community.

archive

Tavia
Nyong'o

Tuesday, April 2, 12:30pm
Houston Hall 223 (Golkin Room)


Lunch will be provided
Free and open to the public

Beasts of the Inner Wild

"Wildness" has emerged as a post-ecological motif among critics interested in pushing cultural studies past the impasse of the human subject. Wildness shifts the human subject from the forefront of our concerns into the background of a pulsing, vital materiality and offers critics a route out of the prison-house of language and the analytics of finitude, restoring a proper wonder in the face of a world in which human consciousness and its correlate are inconceivably puny. But where exactly is this Wild located? And what role do queer and racialized subjects play in its figuration?

Tavia Nyong’o is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, where he writes, researches and teaches critical black studies, queer studies, cultural theory, and cultural history. He is the author of The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory and has published articles on punk, disco, viral media, the African diaspora, film, and performance art.

archive

Ruth
Leys

Wednesday, Feb 27, 12:00pm
Fisher-Bennett Hall 222


Lunch will be provided
Free and open to the public

Violence, Affect,
and the Post-Traumatic Subject

If the 20th-century was the Freudian century, the century of libido, will the 21st century--as has been suggested--be the century of the “post-traumatic” subject, whose affective indifference and profound emotional disengagement from the world mark him or her as a victim of brain damage? Do political, economic, and natural violence now take the form of meaningless traumatic shocks to the “emotional brain”?

Ruth Leys is Henry Wiesenfeld Professor of Humanities and Director of Graduate Studies at the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University. She has recently published a critique of affect studies in Critical Inquiry and is on the editorial board of nonsite.org.

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Josephine
Park

Wednesday, Nov 28, 12:00pm
Cherpack Lounge
Williams Hall 543


Lunch will be provided
Free and open to the public

Aesthetic Consolation
& Asian America

How does aesthetics function as consolation for a population rendered peculiarly aesthetic? Recent readings into Asian American literature have focused on a longstanding identification of Asians as aesthetic creatures, and we will attempt to think through expressions of aesthetic consolation alongside singularly unconsoling experience in key instances of this writing.

Josephine Park is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

archive

Avi
Alpert

Wednesday, Nov 14, 12:00pm
Cherpack Lounge
Williams Hall 543


Lunch will be provided
Free and open to the public

What is (Global) Enlightenment? Kant's Response to the Challenge of Primitivism #wip

We will look at how key elements in the thought of Kant developed in part as his response to Rousseau's challenge about the advantages of primitive life as one example of how representations of indigenous life in the Americas after the colonial encounter shaped various aspects of modern, global subjectivity. Download WIP here.

Avi Alpert is a graduate student in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania.

archive

Neşe
Devenot

Wednesday, Oct 17, 12:00pm
Cherpack Lounge
Williams Hall 543


Lunch will be provided
Free and open to the public

Hyperspaces: An Intellectual History of Higher Dimensions #wip

We will examine the tradition of invoking analogies to lower dimensions to envision higher-dimensional space, and the ambiguous role that the discourse around such thought experiments have played in debates surrounding the limits of reason and rationality.

Neşe Devenot is a graduate student in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania.

archive

David
Eng

Wednesday, Oct 3, 12:00pm
Cherpack Lounge
Williams Hall 543


Lunch will be provided
Free and open to the public

Comparative Literature
& the Question of China: a workshop

How might critical attention to "China" help undo the epistemological consistency of liberal humanism--and the liberal human subject--as the implicit grounding for much of our work on modernity? Indeed, what is a valid grounds for comparison?

David Eng is Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and recently co-edited the Social Text issue "China and the Human."

archive

Leo
Bersani

Tuesday, Sept 11, 6:30pm
Slought Foundation
4017 Walnut Street


Dinner to follow
Free and open to the public

Freud's Anti-Genitality

Are the human genitals at once exciting and repellent? This seems to be Freud's view of the subject, and it risks problematizing, in an unhelpful way, the centrality of the body in psychoanalytic thought. Is the body psychoanalytically "saved" by the Freudian notion of the drive?

Leo Bersani is known for working across a number of disciplines, such as modern French literature, literary criticism, psychoanalysis, art history, film theory, aesthetics and sexuality studies. His many books include Is the Rectum a Grave? And Other Essays (University of Chicago Press, 2009); Intimacies (with Adam Phillips, University of Chicago Press, 2008); Homos (Harvard University Press, 1995); The Culture of Redemption (Harvard University Press, 1990).

Spring 2013 Schedule

Leo Bersani

Freud's Anti-Genitality
Tuesday, Sept 11, 6:30pm
Workshop
Wednesday, Sept 12, 12pm

David Eng

Comparative Literature & the Question of China: a workshop
Wednesday, Oct 3, 12pm

Josephine Park

Aesthetic Consolation
& Asian America

Wednesday, Nov 28

Works in Progress

Neşe Devenot

Wednesday, Oct 17

Avi Alpert

Wednesday, Nov 14

Fall 2012 Schedule

Ruth Leys

Violence, Affect, and the
Post-Traumatic Subject

Wednesday, February 27

Naomi
Waltham-Smith

Romantic Genius, Intellectual Property & Auctoritas:
Haydn's Celebrity

Wednesday, April 10

Tavia Nyong'o

Beasts of the Inner Wild
Tuesday, April 2

Peter Nicholls

Skeptics, cynics, & pessimists:
a pre-history of modernism

Thursday, April 18

Last modified August 29, 2013
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania

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