Sunday, March 30, 2008

CFP: "The Popular," Inaugural World Picture Conference, Oklahoma State University, October 24-25, 2008.

Keynote Speakers: Ernesto Laclau and Lauren Berlant. The World Picture conference is an annual meeting devoted to theory that takes place in the intimate setting of Stillwater, Oklahoma. This year’s meeting will gather theorists from around the world, and from across disciplines, to address questions of the popular. We are accepting proposals for papers that address this issue in any number of ways. Some possible topics might include, but are not limited to: Heteronomy/Autonomy Populism Styles of the Popular The Unpopular Hegemony and Style Metaphor and the Masses Intimacy Citizenship Revolution Sentimentality The Public and the Popular Further information may be found here:

PUB: "Jargon." WORLD PICTURE 1 (2008).

Table of Contents: Peggy Ahwesh 73 Suspect Words Jonathan Beller Imperial Jive (A One-Act Theoretical Essay) Richard Cante Giving an Account of One's Jargon Scott Durham On the Authenticity of Jargon: From Barthes and Adorno to Godard Hugh S. Manon The Jouissance of Jargon Brian Price Writing at the Limits of Reason John David Rhodes Talking Ugly Keston Sutherland Marx in Jargon Meghan Sutherland The Word for a Thousand Pictures Martin Wallen Iambic Phalloi in Pinque, or, The Jargon of Idiots versus the Idiom of Ruritania Brian Price and Meghan Sutherland On Debord, Then and Now: An Interview with Oliver Assayas Brian Price and Meghan Sutherland The Art of Impurity: An Interview with Emmanuel Bourdieu Visit the journal website here:

PUB: "The Spirit of the Age: Hegel and the Fate of Thinking." COSMOS AND HISTORY 2-3 (2007).

Drawing on Hegel’s claim that ‘it belongs to the weakness of our time not to be able to bear the greatness, the immensity of the claims made by the human spirit, to feel crushed before them, and to flee from them faint-hearted’, this essay explores the possibility of a renewed encounter with Hegel’s thought. Arguing that it is not the acceptance or rejection of the lessons of Hegel’s thought that is important, but rather that ever since Hegel, philosophers are challenged to experience philosophy as such as the happening of the spirit of the age. It further asks the question how is it that the spirit of the age might emerge in an otherwise spiritless age? From this perspective the question for us is whether philosophizing today has the power to generate a level of intensity, not so much for the spirit of our own age to emerge clearly and distinctively, but for the spirit of the age to emerge at all. Perhaps, instead, the real issue for those of us who come after Hegel is whether we are strong enough to intensify and withstand the intensity that Hegel’s thinking has already released. From this perspective to encounter the spirit of the age can be neither to look for it in the developments of the twenty-first century world nor to produce a radically new philosophy. The essay suggests that the fate of those of us who follow the arriving of Hegel, the revolutionary thinker, is to face the challenge of dwelling in his arriving. Download the issue here:

Howard, Jennifer. "A Question of Evidence, or a Leap of Faith [on Coleridge]?" CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION March 28, 2008.

Did he or didn't he? The question is vexing Coleridge scholars. Did the author of "Christabel," "Kubla Khan," and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" compose a blank-verse translation of Goethe's Faust that was published anonymously in London in 1821? Two prominent Romanticists, Frederick Burwick and James C. McKusick, both Americans, believe they have clinched the case for Coleridge, settling a debate that stretches back decades. Last November, Oxford University Press published their edition of the 1821 translation, a partial rendering of Goethe's masterpiece about a scholar who sells his soul to Mephistopheles. The volume arrived with a provocatively definitive title: Faustus, From the German of Goethe, Translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Burwick and McKusick are not upstarts who hope to make their names by advancing wild claims; they have toiled long years in the vineyards of Romantic scholarship. Burwick is a professor emeritus of English at the University of California at Los Angeles. His co-editor is a professor of English at the University of Montana as well as dean of Davidson Honors College there. Now a group of equally eminent British scholars — Roger Paulin, William St Clair, and Elinor Shaffer — has stepped forward to dispute Burwick and McKusick's claim. Paulin is an emeritus professor of German at the University of Cambridge. St Clair, formerly of Trinity College Cambridge, and Shaffer are both affiliated with the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. He is a senior research fellow in the Institute of English Studies there, and she holds the same title in the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies. In late February, they published an online review essay, "A Gentleman of Literary Eminence," on the School of Advanced Study's Web site. "The case that Faustus is a work by Coleridge has not been made," they assert in that essay. "This volume is not what it appears to be. Nor is it consistent with the normal standards of Oxford University Press." . . .

Mayes, Tessa. "Mill is a Dead White Male with Something to Say." SPIKED REVIEW OF BOOKS 11 (March 2008).

Mill’s own ‘harm principle’ is frequently cited to justify bans and restrictions today. He invented the ‘harm principle’ in his political tract On Liberty in 1859, where he argues: "The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant" (1). In his excellent, well-timed biography of Mill, British author and commentator Richard Reeves argues that being quoted by both sides in something like the smoking debate "would have pleased" Mill (2). Mill was the public intellectual who believed that truth is discovered through argument rather than being established from on high, so that ideas become a ‘living truth’ through debate rather than a ‘dead dogma’ handed down by our superiors. And as Reeves draws out in his biography, Mill also revelled in intellectual eclecticism. He thought the truth lay somewhere in opposing arguments. As he wrote in On Liberty: "Conflicting doctrines, instead of the one being true and the other false, share the truth between them" (3). Just for the record, he didn’t mean, in a pre-PC relativistic fashion, that ‘all truths are equal’, but rather that truth is arrived at through the clash of ideas, the changing and tempering of views through open debate, rather than being set in authoritarian stone. . . . Read the rest here:

Macintyre, Ben. "Nietzsche and his Nazi Sister." TIMES March 28, 2008.

Two gravestones stand side by side in the churchyard of the little village of Röcken, south of Leipzig: one belongs to Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the greatest and most misunderstood philosophers; the other marks the grave of his sister Elisabeth, a lifelong anti-Semite who hijacked her brother's writings after his death and used them to serve the cause of Nazism, leaving a stain on his philosophy that has never been fully erased. . . . Read the rest here:

Boyes, Roger. "Friedrich Nietzsche's Grave Under Threat from Search for Brown Coal." TIMES March 26, 2008.

Friedrich Nietzsche declared famously that “God is dead!” so it is probably safe to assume that he did not much care what happened to his skeleton. Which may be just as well as bulldozers prepare to turn over the philosopher's grave and his birthplace in search of brown coal. . . . More here:

BBC Radio 4: Melvyn Bragg's IN OUR TIME podcast: Søren Kierkegaard.

In 1840 a young Danish girl called Regine Olsen got engaged to her sweetheart – a modish and clever young man called Søren Kierkegaard. The two were deeply in love but soon the husband to be began to have doubts. He worried that he couldn’t make Regine happy and stay true to himself and his dreams of philosophy. It was a terrible dilemma, but Kierkegaard broke off the engagement – a decision from which neither he nor his fiancée fully recovered. This unhappy episode has become emblematic of the life and thought of Søren Kierkegaard - a philosopher who confronted the painful choices in life and who understood the darker modes of human existence. Yet Kierkegaard is much more than the gloomy Dane of reputation. A thinker of wit and elegance, his ability to live with paradox and his desire to think about individuals as free have given him great purchase in the modern world and he is known as the father of Existentialism.


  • Jonathan Rée, Visiting Professor at Roehampton University and the Royal College of Art
  • Clare Carlisle, Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool
  • John Lippitt, Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Hertfordshire
Further information, including the podcast, here:

CFP: "The Early Twentieth-Century Crisis in Psychology: Causes, Contexts, and Consequences," Max Planck Institute, October 10-12, 2008.

Since Franz Brentano in 1874 complained that psychology had split into many divergent approaches, the state of psychology has been often characterized as a crisis. These concerns were particularly strongly expressed around 1910-1930 by psychologists who were building new research paradigms that have determined the course of psychology ever since. Many researchers and thinkers-such as Karl Bühler, Hans Driesch, Kurt Koffka,William Stern, Lev Vygotsky, Nikolai Kostyleff, Mary Whiton Calkins, N. N.Lange, S. L. Frank, Edmund Husserl, and a group of Marxist psychologists in Berlin-directly wrote on the crisis in psychology and in related disciplines. This debate involved a reaction against the high expectations connected to the new, experimental research practices established since the 1870s, and it centrally concerned the disciplinary constitution of psychology in relation to the humanities and the natural sciences. The goal of this conference is to reconstruct the debate between competing schools and paradigms in psychology (and neighboring disciplines) from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s, to analyze historical contexts in which particular positions evolved, and to explore the current relevance of the debate. We invite the submission of papers on these and related topics. Preference will be given to papers that address the connection between methodological issues in the history of psychology and social context. We particularly welcome contributions that relate to William James, Karl Bühler, Kurt Koffka, Rudolf Willy, Hans Driesch, and Otto Rühle. The conference will be held in English. Please send papers or abstracts (800-1,000 words) by 1 July 2008 to thefollowing address: For further information, please contact: Ludmila Hyman Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte Boltzmannstraße 2214195 Berlin Telefon (+4930) 22667-138 Telefax (+4930) 22667-248 Email: Thomas Sturm Research Fellow Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Boltzmannstr. 22D-14195 Berlin, Germany Fon: 030/22667-144 Fax: 030/22667-293 Email:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

CFP: "Reading After Empire: Local, Global and Diaspora Audiences," Devolving Diasporas Research Project, Stirling University, September 3-5, 2008.

How should we read colonial and postcolonial texts? Is reading an act of resistance, or the domestication of difference? Does postcolonial studies posit an 'ideal reader'? What (if anything) are the differences between local, national and transnational audiences? How can we ever adequately interpret the imperial archive? This conference focuses on the neglected but central role of reading in colonial, postcolonial and diasporic contexts. It uses reading in its broadest sense (e.g. as reception, viewing, consumption,translation) to raise questions about the politics, and the pleasures, of interpretation. We are interested in both empirical and theoretical accounts of readers and audiences across a range of genres (e.g. literary, cinematic, televisual, internet-based) and contexts (e.g. libraries, living rooms, cinemas, book groups, chat rooms). Titles and abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent electronically, along with a 50-word biography, by March 31st 2008 to Bethan Benwell ( Suggested topics might include: contrapuntal reading; imagined and interpretive communities; catachresis; the postcolonial exotic; literacy; reception as a situated activity; colonial libraries; postcolonial history of thebook; nationalism and hermeneutics; readers within fiction and film; reading and ethics. Conference details, including Registration Forms, will follow shortly at:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Price, Matthew. "Outsider Artist [on Alfred Kazin]." BOOK FORUM (February/March 2008)

In his early twenties, Kazin set up in room 315 of the New York Public Library and burrowed himself deeply into the American grain for the epic 1942 study On Native Grounds, which was hailed by Lionel Trilling and which read like the culminating work of a senior scholar, not the debut of a neophyte. And this was only the beginning. Kazin soared to the top of the freelance pack in the ’50s and ’60s, had friendships and fallings-out with a who’s who of the thinking classes—Richard Hofstadter, Saul Bellow, Hannah Arendt, Arthur Schlesinger, and Daniel Bell, to name some notable examples—traveled abroad, held visiting professorships galore, and garnered a sparkling reputation as a critic, memoirist, and intellectual. . . . Read the rest here:

Weiss, Michael. "The Prometheus of American Criticism [on Edmund Wilson]." DEMOCRATIYA (Spring 2008).

Edmund Wilson has been an object of saintly veneration and nostalgia by those old enough to remember when literary critics were arbiters of how people spent their time between meals and work. Who now, in the age of the hatchet job and the shrinking Books section, speaks of 'permanent criticism,' the criticism that endures because it ranks as literature itself? The Library of America has just published Wilson's collected works in an elegant two-volume set spanning the critic's most productive decades—the 20s, 30s and 40s. Coming a year after Lewis Dabney's definitive biography, the resurrection of such sorely missed volumes as The Shores of Light, Axel's Castle and The Wound and the Bow surely qualifies an 'event' publication. Now there's a term the owlish sage of Red Bank would have loathed to no end. . . . Read the rest here:

Thompson, Bob. "Things Fall into Place." WASHINGTON POST March 9, 2008.

In a few days Achebe will travel 110 miles down the Hudson to Town Hall in Manhattan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Things Fall Apart. Toni Morrison will speak, as will, among others, his fellow Nigerian-born writers Chris Abani and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Abani will remind the packed house that they've come together "because we are in awe of the way in which one human being's imagination can intervene in all our lives." But right now, the owner of that life-shaping imagination is trying to explain that he is not entirely certain just how Things Fall Apart came into the world. "It's a little mysterious in some ways," he says. The book "seized me, and almost wrote me. I'm not quite sure I wrote it." . . . The whole article is here:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Deresiewicz, William. "Professing Literature in 2008." THE NATION March 11, 2008.

Graff, Gerald. Professing Literature: an Institutional History. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987. Rpt. 2008. Professing Literature, Gerald Graff's history of American English departments, has just been reissued in a twentieth-anniversary edition (Chicago, $19). Published at the height of the culture wars--it came out a month before Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind--Graff's book brought a cooling sense of historical perspective to the inflamed passions of the moment. We'd been having the same arguments, it turned out, since universities started teaching English literature in the middle of the nineteenth century. The positions may have changed, but the issues had not. Classicists had been deposed by humanists, humanists by historians, historians by critics and now critics by theorists, but across the barricades of each revolution, the same accusations were flung: obfuscation, esotericism and overspecialization; naïveté, dilettantism and reaction. Teaching versus research, humane values versus methodological rigor, "literature itself" versus historical context. What's happened since? Graff's new preface reaffirms his belief that the answer to the mutual isolation of competing critical schools is to "teach the conflicts," but it doesn't tell us what's happened in the past twenty years (which happen to be the twenty years since I decided to go to graduate school). Broadly speaking, the past two decades have seen a move back toward historicism from the purely rhetorical realms of deconstruction: postcolonialism, New Historicism, cultural studies, history of the book. But the uniqueness of Graff's study was its attempt to offer, in the words of its subtitle, an "institutional history," not merely a chronology of intellectual trends. What's been going on there, at the more fundamental level of institutional structure and practice? . . . Read the rest here:

Socher, Abraham. "Review of Michael L. Morgan and Peter Eli Gordon, eds. CAMBRIDGE COMPANTION TO MODERN JEWISH PHILOSOPHY." NDPR March 15, 2008.

Morgan, Michael L., and Peter Eli Gordon, eds. Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. In 1916, Isaac Husik ended his still-useful History of Medieval Jewish Philosophy on an elegiac note: "There are Jews now and there are philosophers, but there are no Jewish philosophers and there is no Jewish philosophy." Although Husik's epitaph isn't mentioned, the contributors and editors of the new Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy repeatedly and even worriedly address the question of whether there is any such distinctively philosophical sub-field through which the reader must be guided. . . . Read the rest here:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Colebrook, Claire. "Review of Gregg Lambert's WHO'S AFRAID OF DELEUZE AND GUATTARI?" NDPR March 13, 2008.

Lambert, Gregg. Who's Afraid of Deleuze and Guattari?. London: Continuum, 2006. Who's Afraid of Deleuze and Guattari? is not a work of serious Deleuze and Guattari exegesis; it does not set out to be. Nor is Lambert's book an introductory guide, and even less is it a post-exegete's production of a method that one might take from Deleuze and Guattari's work once it has been liberated from its highly idiosyncratic language. Rather, as the title implies, Who's Afraid of Deleuze and Guattari? is a diagnosis of the institutional failure to really read Deleuze and Guattari's monumental Anti-Oedipus. In the spirit of Deleuze and Guattari themselves Lambert does not simply point out a series of errors or illusions that plague Deleuze studies, as though Deleuze and Guattari had produced a perfectly rational corpus that had somehow been afflicted by an accidental but lamentable academic stupidity. If Deleuze and Guattari, whose work is genuinely revolutionary, have been mis-read then this possibility must have its prior potentiality in the writings themselves; one cannot simply dismiss a mis-reading by pointing to a lack of readerly good will or acumen. . . . Read the rest here:

Friday, March 14, 2008

CFP: "India and the Indian Diasporic Imagination," Paul Valery University, Montpellier 3, France, April 2-4, 2009.

The 19th century witnessed large-scale migration from India to various parts of the world. Indentured labourers were recruited to work in the Caribbean between 1838 and 1917 (particularly Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad as well as Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Martinique), Fiji, Mauritius (as early as 1834), South Africa and a few other plantation colonies. Over one million Indians sold themselves into bondage before the system was made illegal in 1917. South Asians later worked in East Africa, to work on the railways and in other industries, going to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. The descendents of these peoples, along with those of other South Asian migrants, who have gone to Europe, North America and Australia since the Second World War, now constitute a substantial and fascinatingly diverse diaspora. Representations of their notions of “Mother India” have been crucial to the shaping of identity among many of these diasporic peoples. As the stature of India as a potential world power has grown in the last ten years, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in India, which has contributed to enhanced self-esteem in these communities. Far from emphasizing the question of origin, the papers will focus on the interaction between Indians in India and those in the diaspora. If diasporic Indians have been transforming the countries they have been living in, it is legitimate to ask how India itself is being transformed by its peoples in the diaspora. The privileging of categories such as ‘non-resident Indians’ or ‘persons of Indian Origin’ by India enhances this line of enquiry. In recent years outstanding works of the creative imagination, based on these diverse communities have emerged, in conjunction with an impressive body of scholarship. Yet, no major conference has sought to tap into this rich reservoir of learning. This conference seeks to redress this shortcoming. This is a call for papers which explore all aspects of the Indian diasporic experience and its representations. Contributors are invited to participate in a conference that addresses the following areas: Cinema, Culture, Economics, History, Music and Dance, Religion, Sports, Women’s Studies. Literature and Comparative Literature will, of course, be prominent, and particular attention will be devoted to writers of Indian origin writing in English or in French. English and French will be the two languages used. The conference will be held at Paul Valery University (Montpellier, France). It will be the result of collaboration between the Cerpac (Research Centre for the Commonwealth, EA 741, Montpellier 3) and the Caribbean Studies Centre (London Metropolitan University, UK). Those interested in participating should send their abstracts (between 250 and 300 words) as well as a short bio-bibliographical notice (200 words) to the two convenors: Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak and Dr Rita Christian The deadline for sending the proposals is June 30, 2008. Acceptance will be notified by September 15.

"Philosophy of Literature," Ratio Conference 2008, University of Reading, April 12, 2008.

Only a few subsidized student places still remain: £15 (instead of £30) inclusive of lunch and refreshments thanks to a grant from the Analysis Trust. Speakers of the day will be: * Peter KIVY (Rutgers University): Fictional Form and Symphonic Structure * Peter LAMARQUE (University of York): The Elusiveness of Poetic Meaning * M. W. ROWE (Birkbeck College, London): Literature, Truth & the Aesthetic Attitude * Ole Martin SKILLEAS, (University of Bergen): Autobiography and Mimesis Conference venue: Seminar Room 1, Black Horse House University of Reading Whiteknights Campus Reading RG6 6AA, UK Please direct enquiries to: Dr. Severin Department of Philosophy University of Reading Whiteknights Reading RG6 6AA, UK

"Fragmented Narrative: the Narratology of the Greek Letter," Department of Classics, University of Wales Lampeter, September 21–24, 2008.

Recent scholarship in Classics and beyond has shown great interest in letters and epistolary literature of all forms (most recently in R. Morello & A. D. Morrison, Ancient Letters), including the narrative uses of the epistolary form (see especially N. Holzberg’s Der griechische Briefroman and P. A. Rosenmeyer’s Ancient Epistolary Fictions). The use of embedded letters to advance the narrative (among other functions) in genres such as historiography and the novel, and the potential for real or pseudonymous letters or collections of letters to function as (real or fictionalised) biography, autobiography, or historical narrative/novel, mean that letters in antiquity play a crucial role in the development of narrative literature of many kinds, especially biographical and novelistic. Spurious and fictional letters have also been recognised as important in tracing the origins of the novel in early work in this field, but have since then been marginalised by scholars working on the novels, as in other fields, until recently. The particular capacity of letters to reveal the private lives of the great and the good, and likewise of ordinary people, makes epistolary literature an essential consideration in studying the invention of prose fiction in antiquity. The great popularity of letters, with varying degrees of fictionality or literariness, as reading-matter rather than merely tools for communication, especially in the Imperial period, also makes it essential that we pay attention to this genre and its great quantity and variety of texts, if we are to understand the reading practices and appreciate the literature of antiquity without modern prejudices about the ‘artificiality’ of epistolary literature. Letters are always about narrative, among other things: whether directly—narrating events to absent correspondents; or indirectly—presenting fragments of, or oblique hints at, an underlying narrative which the reader must reconstruct. In contrast to more general epistolary studies, the aim of this conference is to explore both this inherent narrative quality of letters and its use by Greek authors in a variety of genres and kinds of text; and the fragmentary, limited, sometimes even wilfully obscure nature of epistolary narratives which omit vital information in the name of verisimilitude. The result will be a series of discussions of the narratives and the narratology of the Greek letter, taking into account fresh approaches to epistolarity from a variety of disciplines, and considering some usually neglected epistolary texts. An edited volume (not simply a conference proceedings) is the intended outcome. The literary qualities of many collections of Greek letters are often overlooked, despite the fact that they were evidently read (and in later cases written) as literature or as fiction and display the same awareness of generic conventions and self-consciousness of their literary nature as other kinds (e.g. engaging in intertextuality with famous earlier letter collections—notably the Platonic letters). The conference therefore also aims to restore letters to a place of prominence in scholarship on Greek narratives of all genres, and to explore the great wealth of epistolary material in Greek which has been far less studied than similar texts in Latin—and in some cases (especially the so-called epistolary novels) have no obvious equivalent in Latin. Texts which are studied for other reasons but whose epistolary-literary form has not been examined in detail are also central to the project. (Many collections of letters are studied as part of the history of philosophy, oratory, medicine, etc., but there is much to be said about them as narratives and as epistolary literature.) Other texts, clearly spurious but purporting to be documents in the lives of famous historical characters, have been neglected largely because of their spuriousness, but are nevertheless significant in the development of epistolary and fictional literature and their relation to one another. Texts whose epistolarity seems only a ‘frame’ for some other form of text could also be considered, provided that they contain some form of narrative, however short. Further information may be found here:

"Wittgenstein after his Nachlass," Instituto de Filosofia da Linguagem, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, May 2-3, 2008.

The publication of the Bergen Electronic Edition of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass, between 1998 and 2000, was a really outstanding and extremely valuable contribution to Wittgenstein scholarship. Besides the digital facsimiles and transcriptions of almost all the Wittgenstein papers, it offers some very useful search facilities. However, many items raise serious philological questions and only a relative small number of scholars make an effective use of that careful piece of editorial work. The aim of this conference is then to explore the rich and variable tangles that characterise Wittgenstein’s Nachlass, as well as their relations to his conception of philosophy. Some papers will also touch on newly published or hitherto unpublished sources for the study of Wittgenstein and the new Bergen Electronic Edition will be discussed. This meeting is intended to inaugurate an international collaborative work on Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. Speakers include: James Conant (Chicago), P. M. S. Hacker (Oxford), Brian F. McGuinness (Siena), Volker A. Munz (Graz), Alois Pichler (Bergen), Josef G. F. Rothhaupt (Munich), Joachim Schulte (Zurich), Ilse Somavilla (Innsbruck), David G. Stern (Iowa), Nuno Venturinha (Lisbon) Further information is available here:

British Wittgenstein Society

The website of the British Wittgenstein Society has been launched. The URL is:

CFP: "Transmodernity: Managing Global Communication," Romanian Association of Semiotic Studies, Bacau and Slanic-Moldovia, October 23-25, 2008.

The time for a great change of paradigm – the shift from postmodernity to transmodernity – has already come. Setting out from existing transformations, diversities (experienced as difference), varieties (perceived as absence of sameness, of routine and monotony), alterities (through a continuous transgressing of borders), transmodernity foregrounds the new phenomenon of the “network world”. The increased cultural complexity of the global(izing/ized) world, which seems to be the raison d’être for “trans-”prefixed domains of action has turned into fertile ground for cross-breeding between several areas of research, such as management, communication studies, marketing and semiotics. How can transborder exchanges come to terms with processes within borders, how do international power relations influence structures mapped within frontiers, how can differences, varieties etc. be decoded and understood, how can communication be conducted in a “networld” where everything is produced and interpreted at a global level? How can the “relational dynamism” of this new (transcultural) “netocracy” be communicated and controlled? What is its new rhetoric like? These are just few questions to be debated upon during the 2nd ROASS international conference “Transmodernity: Managing Global Communication”. The papers can be defended in English, French, or Romanian. Further information is here:

Oudart, Jean-Pierre. "Cinema and Suture." CAHIERS DU CINEMA 211 and 212 (1969). Trans. Kari Hanet. SCREEN 18 (1978).

Suture represents the closure of the cinematic énoncé in line with its relationship with its subject (the filmic subject or rather the cinematic subject), which is recognized, and then put in its place as the spectator - thus distinguishing the suture from all other types of cinema, particularly the so-called "subjective" cinema, where the suture did exist, but undefined theoretically. At first film-makers had only experimented quite intuitively with the effects of the profound necessity of suture, but not with its causes which remained hidden given the subjective conception they had of the image and their confusion of the filmic subject with the filmed subject. Having determined the filmic subject, Bresson, no less radically than Godard, has put the filmed subject back in its place as signifying object. However - and this distinguishes bis work from the whole of modem cinema - Bresson gives more than he took away; he puts the filmed subject within a structure and in a symbolic place which are those of cinema per se, no longer as a fictive subject located in an illusory existential relationship with its surroundings, but as the actor in a representation whose symbolic dimension is revealed in the process of reading and viewing. Suture is best understood through a consideration of what is at stake in the process of "reading" film. The properties of the image manifested there and revealed in particular by the "subjective" cinema arc currently being not so much challenged as repressed (with the result that they are then often "re-revealed" in the research of young film-makers such as Pollet). These characteristics mean that the cinema itself engenders the cinematic, that the image of its own accord enters the order of the signifier. and that by and in this process of reading are determined the properties, the conditions and the limits of its signifying power. Such a recognition should entail once more questioning the theoretical problems of the cinematic and of signification in the cinema. To understand this demands reading the image to its detriment, a reading with which the contemporary cinema has sometimes made us lose our familiarity, since its use of images without depth hides what the depth-of-field cinema revealed all the time: that every filmic field traced by the camera and all objects revealed through depth of field - even in a static shot - are echoed by another field, the fourth side, and an absence emanating from it. . . . Rpt. The Symptom 8 (2007). Read the whole article here:

Zizek, Slavoj. "How to Read Lacan." Lacan.Com.

Is, then, psychoanalysis today really outdated? It seems that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurolobiologist model of the human mind appears to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psyhoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against pills and behavioral therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of a society, of social norms, which repress the individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness. Nonetheless, in the case of psychoanalysis, the memorial service is perhaps a little bit too hasty, commemorating a patient who still has a long life ahead. In contrast to the “evident” truths of the critics of Freud, my aim is to demonstrate that it is only today that the time of psychoanalysis has arrived. On reading Freud through Lacan, through what Lacan called his “return to Freud.” Freud’s key insights finally become visible in their true dimension. Lacan did not understand this return as a return to what Freud said, but to the core of the Freudian revolution of which Freud himself was not fully aware. . . . Read the rest here:

Heath, Stephen. "Notes on Suture." SCREEN 18 (1978).

Jacques-Alain Miller's essay "Suture" introduced the concept of suture within the field of psychoanalysis; the article by Jean-Pierre Oudart, drawing on Miller, reproduced the concept for film theory where it has now achieved a certain currency - in both French and Anglo-American writing. The following notes attempt to provide a context for understanding suture, to indicate something of the terms of its original psychoanalytic elaboration and of its subsequent utilization to specify the functioning of cinematic discourse. . . . Rpt. The Symptom 8 (2007). Read the rest here:

Miller, Jacques-Alain. "Suture." CAHIERS POUR L'ANALYSE 1 (1966). Trans. Jacqueline Rose. SCREEN 18 (1978).

What I am aiming to restore, piecing together indications dispersed through the work of Jacques Lacan, is to be designated the logic of the signifier - it is a general logic in that its functioning is formal in relation to all fields of knowledge including that of psychoanalysis which, in acquiring a specificity there, it governs; it is a minimal logic in that within it are given those pieces only which arc necessary to assure it a progression reduced to a linear movement, uniformally generated at each point of its necessary sequence. That this logic should be called the logic of the signifier avoids the partiality of the conception which would limit its validity to the field in which it was first produced as a category; to correct its linguistic declension is to prepare the way for its importation into other discourses, an importation which we will not fail to carry out once we have grasped its essentials here. . . . Rpt. The Symptom 8 (2007). Read the rest here:

Badiou, Alain. "The Subject of Art." THE SYMPTOM 6 (2005).

My Father was accustomed to say, "We must begin by the beginning." So, I must begin this lecture about the subject of art by its beginning. But, what is this beginning? I think we have to begin with the oldest question—the question of being, the question of being as being, of being qua being. What is being? What are we saying when we say something is, something of art is…? Something of art is a joy forever, for example. What are we saying? I begin by a fundamental distinction between three levels of the signification of being. . . . Read the rest here:

Badiou, Alain. "Philosophy as Biography." THE SYMPTOM 9 (2007).

Nietzsche wrote that a philosophy is always the biography of the philosopher. Maybe a biography of the philosopher by the philosopher himself is a piece of philosophy. So I shall tell you nine stories taken of my private life, with their philosophical morality. . . . Thanks for the link to The whole essay is here:

Hutson, Matthew. "Magical Thinking." PSYCHOLOGY TODAY (March April 2008).

Emotional stress and events of personal significance push us strongly toward magical meaning-making. Lancaster University psychologist Eugene Subbotsky relates an exemplary tale. "I was in Moscow walking with my little son down a long empty block," he recalls. Suddenly a parked car started moving on its own, then swerved toward them, and finally struck an iron gate just centimeters away. "We escaped death very narrowly, and I keep thinking magically about this episode. Although I'm a rational man, I'm a scientist, I'm studying this phenomenon, there are some events in your life that you cannot explain rationally. Under certain circumstances I really feel like someone or something is guiding my life and helping me." (Personally I would have felt like something was trying to kill me and needed to work on its aim.) . . . Read the rest either here ( or here (

Mullan, John. "Literature's Self-Implosion." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT March 12, 2008.

Many will remember when the jewellery tycoon Gerald Ratner destroyed his company by publicly deriding its products (and therefore those who bought them). Over the past three decades, many English Literature academics have acted just like this, believes Rónán McDonald, and to similarly self-subverting effect. In the English departments of British universities, the professors have been strenuously denying the value of literature; these candidates for critical authority have waived their rights. It is no wonder, McDonald observes, that academic literary critics are no longer public critics, for if you abandon literary value then, in the eyes of those outside the campus boundaries, the value of the literary critic goes too. . . . Read the rest here:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dutton, Dennis. "Hard-Wired for the Ups and Downs." THE AUSTRALIAN March 12, 2008.

I'M here not to praise elitism but to understand it, not so much through a history of elites but by talking about elites in prehistory. Human beings are naturally hierarchical and they like arranging themselves into hierarchies of skill, age, wealth, competence, experience, whatever. We can deny it if we want, but we all know that when the chips are down and the anarchists have formed the anarchists' association, the first thing they do is elect a governing committee. . . . Read the rest here:,25197,23358497-27702,00.html.


The key argument of Eyal Peretz's Becoming Visionary is given by the book's subtitle and by one of its leading epigraphs. The subtitle is Brian De Palma's Cinematic Education of the Senses. The epigraph in question is taken from Plato's Republic, Book VII: "Education takes for granted that sight is there from the beginning but that it isn't turned the right way or looking where it ought to look, and thus seeks to redirect it appropriately." It is in the re-education of the senses that cinema and philosophy can be said to share a common or related task. Both the philosopher and the director assume that seeing is there as a condition of their enterprise, even though for philosophy seeing is sometimes reduced to an image of common sense or opinion. Each seeks to intervene in this field defined by common perceptions and, in some sense, to wage war with the clichés of vision and thought. The philosopher brings his or her concepts to the battle. As Peretz shows, the director has one weapon in his or her arsenal: the frame. Certainly the frame enacts the definition of education above: given sight, employing the frame to direct or to redirect vision. . . . Read the rest of the review here:

CFP: "The Poetics of Conflict and Reconciliation," Bridgewater College, October 16-18, 2008.

We are accepting proposals for papers in English with a reading time of 15-20 minutes on the role/use of literature in mediating conflict and/or its relationship to Christianity. Conflict can occur at international, national, regional, local, domestic and personal levels. Poetics may be broadly defined to include literary, musical, and artistic works. The scope is not limited to a particular place or time. Random Examples: the artist as spokesman for peace the struggle for Irish identity in Seamus Heaney’s poetry the Soviet poet as mediator the poet as conscientious objector in World War Two the poet as mediator in Cromwell’s Protectorate politics and poetry in Nineteenth-Century Australia poetry as personal conflict therapy Confessional poets' use of diction Send 100-word abstracts to or Stan Galloway /Poetics Conf. Dept. of English Bridgewater College 402 E. College St. Bridgewater, VA 22812 USA Preliminary deadline for submissions: April 4, 2008 Furtner information may be found here:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eagleton, Terry. "Coruscating on Thin Ice." LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS January 24, 2008.

Most aesthetic concepts are theological ones in disguise. The Romantics saw works of art as mysteriously autonomous, conjuring themselves up from their own unfathomable depths. They were self-originating, self-determining, carrying their ends and raisons d’être within themselves. As such, art was a secular version of the Almighty. Both God and art belonged to that rare category of objects which existed entirely for their own sake, free of the vulgar taint of utility. The third member of this category was the human being. In their freedom, independence and glorious pointlessness, works of art were images of men and women – or at least of what they could become under transformed political conditions. In this sense, art was a politics all of its own, pointing to a future society in which human beings would be treated as ends in themselves. It was a foretaste of utopia in its very uselessness. . . . Read the rest here:

4th Annual Conference, Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), University of Leeds, September 3-5, 2008.

The TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group would like to invite proposals for papers for this conference. Please send abstracts with a brief biographical note to the convenors, Professor Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe or Dr Dan by the deadline of 30 June 2008.

Theatre Performance and Philosophy: Mission Statement: Ever since Aristotle's Poetics in the West, and Natyashastra in what is now South Asia, philosophy has played a major role in relation to theatre, both in explaining the phenomena associated with theatre and in influencing theatre practice and theory. Besides examining the often overlooked historical links between philosophy and theatre in the works and plays of given thinkers like Hegel and Sartre, of particular interest to the TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group will be the use of theatrical metaphors in philosophy and the notion of the "performative" and performance, from Austin's How To Do Things withWords to Derrida's "Signature, Event, Context". The radical transformations of philosophy undertaken by thinkers such as Nietzsche, Lyotard, Deleuze, Bataille, Debord, and Baudrillard offer philosophy itself as a theatre in which its poetic aspect is asserted as irreducible to any political or social agenda that may seek to define it. In examining the links between recent philosophical enquiry and theatre and performance this working group will explore the potential practical and theoretical implications of such a turn.

Working Methods: The TPP working group will meet annually at TaPRA conference and maintain a lively debate in between through an email list and research paper presentations at both Lincoln and Loughborough. An outlet for publications exists for appropriate titles, including conference proceedings, in the Rodopi series Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, for which TPP co-convenor Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe serves as general editor, as well as through the refereed web journal at

Monday, March 10, 2008

Waters, Lindsay. "A Call for Slow Writing." INSIDE HIGHER ED March 10, 2008.

If we want change to happen so that essays become the norm of scholarly publication for tenure for junior people, then we will have to make it happen. It is in our power, but it will not happen unless we make a concerted effort. We need to make changes in our journals, as I described we did with boundary 2 and the Marcus/Sollors. We need to do what we might fear will be dumbing down our publications by insisting upon clearer language set forth in rhythmical sentence. The reason for the persistence of gobbledy-gook is that it’s a lot easier to hide mediocre thinking under the cloak of gobbledy-gook. If we insist upon clarity, we will miss those moments of professional “stuplimity” (to use my dear author Sianne Ngai’s word) caused by the deep unclarity of the sort we get from Zizek. But we’ll win back readers. We want to publish writings people will talk about. The real, dirty secret of academic publishing, as a daring author of a letter to the editor of Nature had the courage to say, is that it’s too easy to get published nowadays: “Let’s admit it. . . one can publish just about anything if one goes low enough down the list of impact factors,” wrote Vladimir Svetlov of the Department of Microbiogology at Ohio State University. There are procedures for refereeing and they make some difference in an international context (this is going to be a bigger and bigger issue in the years to come), but those procedures don’t in and of themselves guarantee anything. In fact, where I hear people talk the most about journals edited according to international standards for refereeing, it often attached to mediocre publications and is a reason for excluding from counting towards one’s record publication in essays it is almost impossible to get into because they have their own, very high standards, like Critical Inquiry. A good journal has a direction, a mission and scholarly goals. The for-profit publishers know how to set up a journal that gets credibility in the most facile way possible. It has become harder to make money from journals since September 11th. The old tricks won’t work, but the authorities in the universities have not adjusted to them and in some way they feed into them, feed into the undermining of scholarly standards. The profit motive undermines true credibility of many scholarly journals. I have been clipping the articles from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other papers that document the assault on the authority of scholarly journals by a number of for-profit operations. It has become a lot more dangerous to edit a scholarly journal, especially in the medical sciences where there is big money to lose when the claims for a Big Pharma product are contested by a scientist. I have a big sheaf of such essays gathered over the last three years. All this would be bad enough were it not that papers like the Wall Street Journal also run essays by — what is the right word for it? — people like Professor Thomas P. Stossel of the Harvard Medical School saying that scholarly journals “are magazines,” no better than the magazines you find in the grocery store with no more authority than such publications. The pull-quote from the essay reads: “Why are scientific journals regarded with such reverence?” This shameful screed was meant to undermine scholarly journals. To say the least such talk is of no help in the effort I am encouraging to bring more authority back to the scholarly journal. . . . Read the rest here:

"The World in a Phrase: Philosophy and the Aphorism," Institute of Philosophy, University of London, March 14, 2008.

The aphorism - a world of thought compacted into a single phrase - is the oldest written form of literature on the planet. The aphorism is also the oldest form of philosophical writing, dating back to the earliest moral and cosmological musings of the ancient Egyptians and Chinese. Yet there remains no manner of thinking better suited to contemporary times - and this one-day symposium will explore why. Poets, professors, artists, philosophers, psychologists and comedians (and aphorists!) from Europe and the U.S. will gather to discuss and celebrate the aphorism as a privileged vehicle for grappling with the deepest questions facing our world - and will show how the aphorism is just the ticket if you are tired of ideologies but haven't given up on truth. Further details are here:

Cerbone, David R. "Review of Anthony Kenny's PHILOSOPHY IN THE MODERN WORLD." NDPR March 7, 2008.

Kenny, Anthony. Philosophy in the Modern World. Vol. 4 of A New History of Western Philosophy. Oxford: OUP, 2007. In considering the scope of Kenny's exposition, it is important to note that "modern" modifies "world" rather than "philosophy." The book thus does not cover what is typically covered in a college course on modern philosophy, which usually ranges from Descartes to Kant. Consideration of that era in philosophy was included in the third volume (The Rise of Modern Philosophy). As Kenny notes at the outset, the third volume ended with the death of Hegel, and the present volume continues onward from there to close to the end of the 20th century. In the Introduction, Kenny recounts his struggles with determining a suitable cut-off point for inclusion in the book: Can the philosopher in question still be living? Must he or she be younger than Kenny, who reports being seventy-five? Rather than use demise or his own age as a criterion, Kenny finally settled on a thirty-year rule, thereby excluding from consideration anything written after 1975. Drawing the line there still leaves a considerable swath of philosophy to consider and one of the remarkable achievements of this book is just how much it does manage to cover, and with considerable clarity and rigor (though there are some lamentable lacunae, as I'll suggest below). It is rare indeed that a work in philosophy can move so gracefully from the ethics of Schopenhauer to the logic of Peirce to Croce's aesthetics, but Kenny does just that and a great deal more. That this is the fourth volume of a comprehensive history of Western philosophy makes Kenny's achievements in this particular book even more astonishing. The book is eminently readable, though not easy: as Kenny notes, "philosophy has no shallow end" (p. xv). Still for those wishing to get their feet wet or to fill in some of the gaps in their understanding of the philosophy of this era, this can be an excellent book. However, as I'll try to spell out below, there are some unfortunate gaps in Kenny's own exposition, especially for readers whose interests tend toward 20th century continental philosophy: this audience will have to look elsewhere for filling in those gaps (or, to vary the image, reading this book will leave their feet rather too dry). . . . Read the rest here:

DERRIDA TODAY (Edinburgh University Press)

Derrida Today will focus on what Derrida's thought offers to contemporary debates about politics, society and global affairs. Controversies about power, violence, identity, globalisation, the resurgence of religion, economics and the role of critique all agitate public policy, media dialogue and academic debate. Derrida Today will explore how Derridean thought and deconstruction make significant contributions to this debate, and reconsider the terms on which it takes place. Derrida Today is now inviting papers that deal with the ongoing relevance of Derrida's work and deconstruction in general to contemporary issues; the way it reconfigures the academic and social protocols and languages by which such issues are defined and discussed, and innovative artistic practices that adopt a "deconstructive" approach to how our contemporary situation can be represented. Published: March & November ISSN: 1754-8500 E-ISSN: 1754-8519 Further information is here:

"Methods of Husserl's Phenomenology," Cologne-Leuven Summer School in Phenomenology, Cologne, May 13-17, 2008.

This Summer School is held in English language and it should give an insight in the basic methods of Husserlian phenomenology. The center of the cours will be the method of constitutional analysis, the eidetic method, the reductive methods and genetic intentional-analysis. These methods will be presented in lectures, each day in the time 10-13.00 together with a discussion on this topics. In the afternoon in the time 15-17.00 there will be a textual analysis that should go into some details and in this way help to enhance the understanding. The lecturers are: Prof. Dr. U. Melle (Leuven), Prof. Dr. D. Lohmar (Köln), Dr. H. Peucker (Paderborn) und Dr. J. Brudzinska (Köln / Warschau). We are planning for a level that should help to inform intensively on the topic of methods in phenomenology on a medium level but we are also open for discussions of methodical questions on the level of doctoral students and postdocs.This cours will be also handled as a "Hauptseminar" for the students of the cologne university. To get a qualified certificate for this Hauptseminar a written paper on a topic to be determined by the is expected. This international Summer School is open for students from all countries. Because we have no financial support to offer for participiants we strongly encourage you to apply for short term grants at your university or other institutions. Time: Tuesday-Saturday 13-17. Mai 2008 Each day 10-13.00 and 15-17.00 Room: University of Cologne, Main Building, Room 4.016 IMPORTANT: Written registration is required because of limited capacities!Registration is to be done with the secretary of the Cologne

"Être à la vérité: Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1908-2008," Basel University, March 11-15, 2008.

The question of truth was one of the fundamental philosophical questions which challenged the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty throughout his life. He developed his reflections on the (im)possibility of truth – starting with a critique of René Descartes’ body-soul-consciousness-separation – through a thorough reading of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology, and Hegelian dialectics, as well as of different forms of ontology, especially modern ontology, including the works of Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger. On this background, his questioning of truth reflected not only the philosophical conception of truth, but also truth in the natural sciences as well as in art, music and literature. The naïve understanding of truth in être au monde (being towards the world) is the starting point for his reflection in all periods of his work. It might be merely a belief – as M. Merleau-Ponty says – that the world and other humans are given in perception, yet this belief grounds the philosophical doubt of perception and its truth. Although starting from perceptive certainty might be grounded in belief, it is possible to reflect on this starting point itself. M. Merleau-Ponty approaches perceptive certainty again and again from different perspectives and situates it in different contexts. In his first book, The Structure of Behaviour, he develops a holistic conception of behaviour based on Gestalt theoretical concepts. This approach links a double critique of realist and idealist research and philosophy. He conceives behaviour as being at the same time, both perceptible and internally structured by non-intellectual connections. In his second book, Phenomenology of Perception, M. Merleau-Ponty explicitly speaks of “perception as access to truth” (PP XI (French original) / XVII (English translation)). Reflection on perception is the privileged approach for clarifying the question of the truth of être au monde (being towards the world). In his unfinished book, The Prose of the World, he develops, through a dialectical relation of linguistic sense in literature and perceptive sense in art, a conception of sense which is not representational but structural. However, his thesis is based on a cultural and historical paradigm that renders the possibility and the status of formal truth a problem. As the question of truth concerns literature, art, music, history, culture, society, and politics, as well as the natural sciences and philosophy, including not only epistemology and logic, but also ontology and aesthetics, Maurice Merleau-Ponty has to relinquish his cultural and historical paradigm for a more fundamental approach. In his last book, The Visible and the Invisible, he provides a sketch of an indirect ontology which approaches truth by reflecting on the other (the world, the other human and the other of the self) as neither the same nor completely different. Être à la vérité (being towards truth) is necessarily grounded in être au monde (being towards the world) and être à l’autre (being towards the other). The question of truth – one of the fundamental questions of Western philosophy – is resituated in M. Merleau-Ponty’s work in a fundamental way. Accordingly, M. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy is of decisive impact for philosophy at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. The fact of the growing importance of his philosophy, not only in France and Germany but also in the US and Asia, is therefore no surprise. This conference, celebrating his centenary, brings together different generations of renowned specialists of M. Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy from different philosophical disciplines and several continents. For further information:

Schlinger, Henry D. "Consciousness is Nothing But a Word." eSKEPTIC February 27, 2008.

In 1991, Daniel Dennett published his tome, Consciousness Explained. Yet, ten years later he penned an article titled “Are We Explaining Consciousness Yet?” If he had to ask the question, the answer seems obvious. English-speaking philosophers and psychologists have been trying to understand consciousness at least since John Locke introduced the word into the English language in the 17th century. But despite the best efforts of those who’ve thrown their hats into the ring, we haven’t made much progress. Obviously, a different approach is needed. . . . Read the rest here:

Holt, Jim. "Good Instincts." NEW YORK TIMES March 9, 2008.

Charity, do-gooding, philanthropy it’s all just selfishness masquerading as virtue. So says the cynic. In modern times, the theory that each of us, despite occasional appearances of self-sacrificial nobility, is ultimately and invariably looking out for No. 1 got a big boost from Darwin’s theory of evolution. By the logic of natural selection, any tendency to act selflessly ought to be snuffed out in the struggle to survive and propagate. So if someone seems to be behaving as an altruist — say, by giving away a fortune to relieve the sufferings of others — that person is really following the selfish dictates of his own genes. The evolutionary psychologist Randolph Nesse confessed that he slept badly for many nights after absorbing this supposed discovery, which he called “one of the most disturbing in the history of science.” . . . Read the rest here:

Pevere, Geoff. "Darwin's Dangerous Idea." TORONTO STAR March 1, 2008.

With the publication of his On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859, the controversy-averse, socially shy British naturalist (described by one biographer as "a reclusive biologist who wrote books") almost single-handedly upended the prevailing paradigm concerning the relationship between man, God and Nature. Where a concept of divine design in nature had prevailed for centuries, Darwin – a non-religious scientific materialist – offered something radically, startlingly and heretically different: a vision of nature processing change in life forms by force of circumstance, a process of constant situational adaptation that saw survival as the only `design' at work. Ergo, dinosaurs go when they can no longer cut it, and man only comes along when natural circumstances permit. Small wonder Darwin himself sat on the revelation for years before publishing it. He knew what was coming. As he wrote in a letter, he felt like he was "committing murder." . . . Read the rest here:

Kirsch, Adam. "Searching For Joseph Conrad." NEW YORK SUN March 5, 2008.

Shortly after his 36th birthday, Conrad gave it all up for good, exchanging the most romantic of callings for the most solitary and sedentary. In just a few years, he made himself into a great writer in English — not even his second language but his third, after French — and invented a new kind of novel, in which adventure and intrigue are raised to the level of moral parable. His fascination with human evil, with the cruelty and existential void lurking beneath the surface of advanced European civilization, qualifies Conrad as perhaps the first modernist writer. "I am modern," he defiantly wrote after one publisher rejected him — so much so that it took decades for his reputation to spread beyond a small circle of admirers. It makes sense that Conrad did not become genuinely popular until World War I, when the public was finally ready to hear the prophecy in Kurtz's dying words in Heart of Darkness: "The horror! The horror!" . . . Read the rest here:

Friday, March 07, 2008

Porter, Peter. "How Shakespeare Started Out." TIMES March 5, 2008.

One of the fascinations of literary scholarship is its hold on writers of our own time. Contemporary poets read Shakespeare almost as if he were a rival, or some sort of perennial vade mecum of technical forms and approaches. John Berryman, embodying that special concept of his time, the “anxiety of influence”, went so far as to lament having written so much verse when he might have spent his life editing King Lear. Even without the expanding needs of modern education, Shakespeare would be with us in hundreds of studies year by year. What remains to be said that is new? Must all evaluation be reassessment in historical and lexicographical terms, or forays into literary value-judging, a procedure with hundreds of books behind it, from ancient Bradley to latest Kermode? The present fascination with Shakespeare’s life and some of its more speculative corners (E. A. J. Honigman’s Lost Years, James Shapiro’s 1599 and Charles Nicholls’s The Lodger) turns out to be as packed with basic literary criticism as any of their more orthodox predecessors. However equivocal Shakespeare’s record may be, his is one of the most familiar presences in our lives. . . . Read the rest here:

Tomalin, Claire. "The Devil's Advocate [on Milton]." GUARDIAN March 1, 2008.

When I was invited by my publishers to choose any English poet for a "selected poems" I found myself saying, almost without a pause to think, "Milton". I confess I was surprised that they took the idea on board so readily. John Milton is a great name, but today he is not a popular poet. To me the early poems are sumptuous, the sonnets witty, magnificent and moving by turns, and Paradise Lost as thrilling as a novel. Yet I suspect that he does not fit easily into our age of performance poetry, and that he may be read less than he deserves to be. His reputation as a bad-tempered husband and father is held against him. But it seems to me that the man who emerges from the poems is a man possessed by natural and human beauty, by dreams, myths and legends, a man full of ideas that are sometimes in conflict with one another; who was prepared to give up his vocation as a poet for years in order to serve a political cause; and who overcame blindness to write his greatest work, full of exquisitely imagined scenes. However gnarled and crusty a man, he is a poet who commands attention. . . . Read the rest here:,,2261041,00.html.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

CFP: "Philosophy as Literature," THE EUROPEAN LEGACY (2009)‏.

The European Legacy hereby invites contributions on the topic of “Philosophy as Literature.” The issue will feature a conversation on the relationship philosophy-literature with GIUSEPPE MAZZOTTA (Sterling Professor of the Humanities for Italian, Yale University), ALEXANDER NEHAMAS (Edmund N. Carpenter II Class of 1943 Professor in the Humanities, Princeton University) & SIMON CRITCHLEY (Professor of Philosophy, The New School for Social Research). The European Legacy, published by Routledge, is the official journal of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas: CALL FOR PAPERS: Like novelists, historians or columnists, philosophers, too, are writers. They make sophisticated use of language, and employ – whether deliberately or not – specific rhetorical and stylistic devices, as well as certain repertoires of metaphors, images and symbols. As writers, philosophers also have to adjust their writing to specific audiences, tailor it to serve specific purposes, and strategically choose one genre over another, with all its rules, protocols, and constraints. In short, it is crucial for philosophers – if they are to persuade readers – to advance their ideas following certain aesthetic rules, rhetorical procedures and strategies of persuasion. This has led some authors to speak of “the literariness of philosophical texts” (Berel Lang) as something indistinguishable from the philosophical substance and relevance of those texts. A writer’s relationship to language, writing and weaving of narratives in general is always complex. For, if we are to believe Heidegger, although “man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, …in fact language remains the master of man.” Therefore, it might well be the case that – as often happen with writers – philosophers, too, go through some peculiar experiences: sometimes, for example, they become so completely seduced by language that they almost lose themselves in the act of writing and come to utter whatever language compels them to; some other times, they become so deeply caught up in their own discourse that it becomes difficult for them to separate from it: on such occasions they are not very different from those novelists who end up becoming characters in the narratives they are weaving. The implication is that a work of philosophy might well be seen as a work of (literary) art, as an autonomous world, for whose creation the author’s personal vision, imagination, playfulness and inventiveness play a major role. In other words, according to this view, The Critique of Pure Reason is, in a fundamental way, much closer to Hamlet or The Brothers Karamazov than to, say, On the Origin of Species. With this in mind, some scholars of philosophy have been in a position to say that philosophy is nothing other than literature. Others, more cautious, have allowed philosophy to be literature only to some degree or under circumstances. Then, there are, of course, those for whom philosophy does not have anything to do with literature. We invite submissions dealing with the multifaceted relationship between philosophy and literature, some aspects of which have been pointed to above. Interdisciplinary approaches (combining, for example, philosophy, literary theory and intellectual history) are particularly encouraged. Here are only some of the possible topics: - The employment of literary categories (genre, tropes, narrative, plot, point of view, etc.) in the production of philosophical texts - The genres of philosophical writing (dialogue, treatise, meditation, journal article, etc) and their significance for the content of those writings; how exactly the adoption of a certain genre shapes the philosophizing in question - Philosophical styles: styles of writing / styles of philosophizing; “the anatomy of the philosophical style” (Berel Lang) - The variety of literary practices in the history of philosophy - The philosophers’ rhetoric; philosophy of rhetoric / rhetoric of philosophy - Canons and canonization in the history of philosophy - Author/authorship/authority in the production of philosophical texts; author’s “voice”; the use of personae, masks, masquerades - Philosophy as expression of the self (philosophy and autobiography) - The art of the “literary philosophers” (Plato, Augustine, Giordano Bruno, Vico, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Unamuno, Benjamin, Sartre, Camus, Cioran, etc) - Recent philosophizing on the relationship philosophy-literature (contributions dedicated to the work of Jacques Derrida, Richard Rorty, Paul Ricoeur, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Theodor Adorno, Stanley Cavell, Alexander Nehamas, Slavoj Zizek, Jean-Luc Nancy, Berel Lang, Iris Murdoch, Simon Critchley, etc) - Literary theorists/historians on the relationship philosophy-literature (contributions dedicated to the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, Rene Wellek, Wolfgang Iser, Hayden White, Giuseppe Mazzotta, Umberto Eco, etc) SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES: Deadline for submissions: January 1, 2009 Length: 6000 words All articles and reviews submitted to The European Legacy undergo peer-review. Manuscripts and Notes, typed double-spaced, should be submitted to the Guest Editor as e-mail attachments, using WordPerfect or Microsoft Word. The author’s full address should be supplied as a footnote to the title page. Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition. You can submit your contributions to: Please allow at least 4-6 months for the review process and editorial decisions. Receipt of materials will be confirmed by email. Unless otherwise noted in this Call for Papers, the Instructions for Authors on the journal’s webpage are adopted for this issue: We look forward to your submissions! Sincerely, Costica Bradatan Guest Editor – “The European Legacy” Assistant Professor of Honors – Texas Tech University

Miller, David Marshall. "Review of Stephen Gaukroger's THE EMERGENCE OF A SCIENTIFIC CULTURE." NDPR March 3, 2008.

Gaukroger, Stephen. The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1210-1685. Oxford: OUP, 2006. The Emergence of a Scientific Culture identifies science both "as a particular kind of cognitive practice, and as a particular kind of cultural product." With this dual view, Gaukroger happily steps out of the old debate in which, broadly speaking, philosophically-inclined "internalist" historians saw science as an intellectual discipline, socio-cultural "externalist" historians viewed science merely as a human practice, and both approaches severely distorted the object of their study by denigrating the importance of the other. By examining science as an intellectual and cultural phenomenon, without regard to the distinction, Gaukroger offers a more accurate, less ideological understanding of science and its history. Indeed, his interest in how the cognitive values of science came to possess cultural significance could have barely been stated, let alone answered, in the context of either internalism or externalism since it presumes that intellectual and cultural values are on a par. At the very least, Gaukroger's starting observation that the intellectual enterprise of Western science gained a cultural traction unique among world cultures frames a novel and promising mode of historical enquiry. . . . Read the rest here:

Monday, March 03, 2008

"Hermeneutics and the Humanities," Jagiellonian University, Kraków, March 27-28, 2008.

Michał Paweł Markowski, Jagiellonian University, Kraków "In Two Moments. Toward the Hermeneutics of Non-Understanding" Hans Ruin, Södertörn Hogskola, Sweden "The Task of Thinking in the Gestell: Hermeneutic Reflections on Heidegger´s Later Thought" Paweł Dybel, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw "The Concept of Historicity of Understanding in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics" Andrzej Wiercinski, International Institute for Hermeneutics, University of Toronto, and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany "Paul Ricoeur’s Indirect Path to Understanding" Leonard Neuger, Stockholm University "What does Chekhov’s Siren Whisper to Us?: The Inevitability of the 'Impossible' Creation of the Humanities" Adam Lipszyc, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw "Remembrance as Lamentation: Scholem, Benjamin, Sebald" Marcia Schuback, Södertörn Hogskola, Sweden "Imaginative Hermeneutics and the Humanities" Boyd Blundell, Loyola University New Orleans, USA "Naive Sophistication: Hermeneutics and the New Humanities" Sean J. McGrath, Humboldt Fellow, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany and Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada "The Hermeneutics of the Symbol: The Impact of Psychoanalysis on the Humanities" For the complete programme (including abstracts), please visit:

Muller, Jerry Z. "Us and Them: the Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism." FOREIGN AFFAIRS March / April 2008.

Contemporary social scientists who write about nationalism tend to stress the contingent elements of group identity -- the extent to which national consciousness is culturally and politically manufactured by ideologists and politicians. They regularly invoke Benedict Anderson's concept of "imagined communities," as if demonstrating that nationalism is constructed will rob the concept of its power. It is true, of course, that ethnonational identity is never as natural or ineluctable as nationalists claim. Yet it would be a mistake to think that because nationalism is partly constructed it is therefore fragile or infinitely malleable. Ethnonationalism was not a chance detour in European history: it corresponds to some enduring propensities of the human spirit that are heightened by the process of modern state creation, it is a crucial source of both solidarity and enmity, and in one form or another, it will remain for many generations to come. One can only profit from facing it directly. . . . Read the rest here:

Ford, Liz, et al. "Eagleton Faces Axe at Manchester." GUARDIAN February 7, 2008.

Terry Eagleton, Britain's leading Marxist literary critic, faces the axe at Manchester University where he has been involved in one of the most ferocious literary spats of recent years with the novelist Martin Amis. . . . In July Eagleton reaches retirement age and speculation is mounting about his future at Manchester, which is in the process of losing 650 jobs to clear a £30m debt. . . . Read the rest here:,,2253955,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=10.

John, Jeremiah. "Review of Ido Geiger's THE FOUNDING ACT OF MODERN ETHICAL LIFE." NDPR February 24, 2008.

Geiger, Ido. The Founding Act of Modern Ethical Life: Hegel's Critique of Kant's Moral and Political Philosophy. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007. It is an indication of the richness of Hegel's philosophy and of the relevance of much English-speaking Hegel scholarship that literature on Hegel's practical philosophy, even after a generation of careful, philosophically rigorous book-length treatments, continues to explore new territory and to show the importance of Hegel's thought to enduring issues in moral and political philosophy. Ido Geiger's The Founding Act of Modern Ethical Life is a fine example of this trend. The Founding Act is also quite striking and unusual, however, on two counts. First, in no more than 158 pages, Geiger's reach spans from Kantian moral philosophy, to Hegel's philosophy of action, philosophy of history, and political philosophy, to the issue of political founding in Plato's Republic. Geiger navigates this territory with ease, also bringing to bear contemporary thinkers such as Lacan, Derrida, Arendt and Stanley Cavell. Second, he cuts against the grain of many standard interpretations of Hegel from the past half-century. Though I find some of his interpretive claims unconvincing, Geiger presents elegant solutions to many tough puzzles in The Founding Act, and caused me to change my opinion on more than one issue in Hegel. . . . Read the rest here:


I. The ‘Event’ and The ‘Eventfulness’. Editorial note. Wolf Schmid: Eventfulness as a Narratological Category. Jan Christoph Meister: Events are us. Peter Hühn: Eventfulness in Poetry and Prose Fiction. Benjamin Biebuyck: Figurativeness figuring as a Condenser between Event and Action. (How Tropes Generate Additional Dimensions of Narrativity). Günter Martens: Narrative Notability and Discourse Events between Rhetoric and Narratology. Eyal Segal: Narrativity and the Closure of Event Sequences. II. Narrative Travels and Visual Stories Mieke Bal: A Thousand and One Voices. Cinema Suitcase: Mille et un jours (2003). III. Archeological Narrative and the ‘Interartistic’ Disclosure. Fee-Alexandra Haase: An Intertextual Reading of a Myth: Between Poetry, Myth, Cult Topography, and History. (Notes on Revisionism in Narrative Traditions of the Mythos of Aphrodite Kypris in Ancient Greek Fragments Attributed to Homer and the Cypria.) Vassilena Kolarova: The Interartistic Concept in Kandinsky’s Paintings. The Image/Text problem. IV. The Sign-Structures, Authors and Characters. Willem G. Weststeijn: Towards a Cognitive Theory of Character. Dennis Ioffe: Sign-Systems, Symbolist Narration, and the Notion of the Transgressive ‘plastic gesture’. (‘Homo Somatikos’ in Russian Modernist Life-Creation). The journal's homepage is here: