Humanities Institute Distinguished Scholar in Residence
Pablo Oyarzún is the author of Entre Celan y Heidegger (Ediciones Metales Pesados 2005), Arte, visualidad e historia (Edit. La Blanca Montaña 2000), Anestética del ready-Made (2000), and, more recently, Re-tazo: Jacques Derrida y la prótesis de origen (2006 with Marcela Rivera Hutinel) and Reflexiones sobre el concepto de poder en Hannah Arendt (2009 with Pamela Paz Améstica Soto).
Prof. Oyarzún's Spring 2010 Seminar is entitled: "Literature and Skepticism." The seminar will be dedicated to the study and discussion of the relation between literature and skepticism from two points of view. On the one hand, there is a historical condition which could be described as the condition of the end of literature, an end that haunts literary experience during the last two centuries, and is particularly alluded to in the premises of Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller”. What is at stake here is the statute of literary experience in the context of modernity. On the other hand, there is a structural condition, according to which literature would only be possible on the ground of a knowledge (some kind of knowledge) about its own impossibility: this peculiar kind of knowledge suggests the affinity between literature and skepticism. What is at stake here is the statute of fiction as specific space of the literary and at the same time as dimension of the ego.
A preliminary discussion of the aforesaid elements in connection with the outlines of skepticism—as presented by Sextus Empiricus—will precede the analysis of some exemplary cases. If there is any time left, it would be possible to explore (very briefly) the techniques and rhetoric of visual self-presentation on the basis of some eminent cases of the tradition of the self-portrait.
Readings include works of Sextus Empiricus, Montaigne, Borges, Benjamin, Kleist, Carroll.
On Friday, April 9, Prof. Oyarzún will speak on "Literature and Skepticism." The lecture takes place in 830 Cemens Hall, beginning at 3pm, and is followed by a discussion and reception.
Donald E. Pease received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is the author or Visionary Compacts: American Renaissance Writing in Cultural Context which won the Mark Ingraham Prize for the best book in the Humanities in 1987. Pease is also the author of over seventy essays and the editor of eight volumes including: The American Renaissance Reconsidered, Cultures of US Imperialism (with Amy Kaplan), Revisionist Interventions into the American Canon, Postnational Narratives and Futures of American Studies (2002). The recipient of Guggenheim, Mellon, Ford, NEH, Dickey, Hewlett and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, Pease is the General Editor for the book series New Americanists at Duke University Press, the Founding Director of a Summer Institute for American Studies at Dartmouth, and the Head of Dartmouth's Liberal Studies Program.
During the Fall 2008 semester Dr. Pease taught a seminar on "American Renaissance" through the English Department. As part of the Humanities Institute Open House on November 5th, he spoke on "The Unclaimed Scene of Writing in Whitman's 'Song of Myself.'" The lecture took place in the Special Collections Reading Room, 420 Capen Hall, and was followed by a lively discussion and reception.
Catherine Malabou is the author of The Future of Hegel (Routledge 2005), Counterpath (with Jacques Derrida), (Stanford 2004), Les nouveaux blessés, de Freud à la neurologie: penser les traumatismes contemporains (The New Wounded, From Freud to Neurology: Thinking Contemporary Traumas) (Bayard, 2007), What should we do with our brain? (Fordham, 2008) and Plasticity at the Eve of Writing (Forthcoming, Columbia University Press, 2009). In her work she articulates the concept of plasticity at the crossing of philosophy (dialectic and deconstruction) and neuroscience.
Prof. Malabou's Spring 2009 Seminar is entitled: "The New Phantoms of Subjectivity: From the Book Without Author to Neural Transparency." This seminar will propose a reading of Michel Foucault and Maurice Blanchot's book The Thought from the Outside in the light of the most recent neuroscientific discoveries. As strange as such an orientation may seem, we will see that there is a striking coincidence between the description of writing as "an absolute opening" and the neurological presentation of the self as a "transparent phenomenon". From the author's disappearance to the void of the neural subject, a new meaning of the "outside" is at work.
On Wednesday, March 25, Prof. Malabou will speak "On the Future of the Humanities." The lecture takes place in the Special Collections Reading Room, 420 Capen Hall, beginning at 4pm, and is followed by a discussion and reception.
Barbara Stafford is the author of Symbol and Myth: Humbert de Superville's Essay on Absolute signs in Art (Associated University Presses, 1979); Voyage into Substance: Art, Science, Nature and the Illustrated Travel Account, 1760-1840 (MIT Press, 1984); Body Criticism: Imaging the Unseen in Enlightenment Art and Medicine (MIT Press, 1991); Artful Science: Enlightenment, Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual Education (MIT Press, 1994); Good Looking: Essays on the Virtue of Images (MIT Press, 1996); Visual Analogy: Consciousness as the Art of Connecting ( MIT Press, 1999); and, most recently, Echo Objects: The Cognitive Work of Images (University of Chicago Press, 2007). Her work has consistently explored the intersections between the visual arts and the physical and biological sciences from the early modern to the contemporary era. Her current research charts the revolutionary ways the neurosciences are changing our views of the human and animal sensorium, shaping our fundamental assumptions about perception, sensation, emotion, mental imagery, and subjectivity.
Prof. Stafford's Spring 2009 Seminar is entitled: "Neuroaesthetics." The seminar takes on extensive and sophisticated analyses of the cognitive work of images, especially their equational structure or correlational role in joining neural activities with social reality. The group will investigate how the computational, symbol-generating, feature-extracting, modular and chemical brain can, in fact, be integrated with the first-person, value-driven, empathetic, and environmentally – attuned self as well as explore how images enable mental activities to cross corporeal boundaries to shape our surroundings.
On Wednesday, February 4, Prof. Stafford spoke on "Slow Looking. Whatever Happened to Selective Attention?" The lecture took place in 120 Clemens Hall, beginning at 4pm.
On Tuesday, February 24, Dr. Barbara Stafford will lead a Faculty Reading Group discussion on "Neuroaesthetics."
Dr. Stafford will be bringing together a truly interdisciplinary group of faculty from the sciences, medicine, and the humanities to discuss the interrelations among images, visuality, visual culture, and the cognitive and neurosciences. The discussion will take place in the Department of History's Lounge (545 Park Hall, North Campus).
While this meeting will, in part, be organizational, two chapters from Antonio Damasio's The Feeling of What Happens (1999, Harvest Books) will also be discussed: Chap. 2 "Emotion and Feeling," and Chap. 3 "Core Consciousness".
These chapters were selected as they offer a working description of "consciousness" as well as provide some broad background into what research in neuroscience can tell us about experiences of feeling and emotion. From here, a discussion can begin about how this research on brain function can inform our understanding of art images, and vice versa.
Links to the readings are below: