Fellows Lectures Archive (2015-2016)

"THE RHETORIC OF PLATO’S MIMĒSIS: THE RHETORICAL THEORY OF IMITATION IN THE REPUBLIC"

Robin Reames
Department of English
Date(s): Monday, 9/28 4:00 PM to Monday, 9/28 6:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower Level / Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352

Plato’s concept of mimēsis is commonly viewed as a foundational term in the humanities, a crucial concept in literary, aesthetic, and performance theory. The term is comparatively neglected in the discipline of rhetoric, and its emergence through Socrates’ rhetorical criticism largely has been ignored by Plato scholarship. In this paper, I argue for four changes in how Plato’s concept of mimēsis ought to be interpreted, all of which favor a greater recognition of the importance for the Republic in the development of the rhetorical tradition. One, I suggest that Plato develops his theory of mimēsis through a method of rhetorical theorizing, consistent with contemporaneous forms of rhetorical theory. Two, this stands at odds with the more common interpretations, which, I argue, too hastily “transcendentalize” mimēsis inasmuch as they presume that Plato’s mistrust is based on a larger mistrust of sensibilia, seeming, and appearances. Three, I suggest that these two changes provide crucial support for Hans-Georg Gadamer’s (1934) view that the apparent attack on the poets is ultimately a red herring: his real target was, in fact, the “spirit of sophism” in Athens, a point made apparent by the obvious parallels between the Republic and Sophist dialogues. Four, because Plato’s mimēsis is derived from rhetorical theory and not from, as it is too often assumed to be, doctrinal metaphysics that split seeming from being, and because this rhetorical theory is ultimately designed to attack sophistry, Plato’s view of rhetoric cannot be collapsed into his critique of sophistry nor attributed to a doctrinal distrust of seeming and appearances. Consequently, the general assumption that the condemnations of poetry, sophistry, and rhetoric are equivalent and, moreover, equally grounded in Platonist metaphysics, is in need of significant reevaluation.

“THIS WILL COVER THAT: WRITING AND BUILDING FROM THE DEATH OF CORBUSIER TO THE END OF ARCHITECTURE”

Robert Somol
School of Architecture
Date(s): Thursday, 10/22 4:00 PM to Thursday, 10/22 6:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower Level / Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352

In 1966, the simultaneous publication of Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Aldo Rossi’s L’architettura della città announced the arrival of the “architect-critic” as a new mode of architectural auteur in the wake of modernism’s dissolution. The adoption of this hybrid form of practice between writing and designing (words and things, ideology and form) intensifies the necessarily “paper” foundation of all architecture, and demonstrates that the establishment of contemporary architectural theory was an effect of the needs and provocations experienced within a wide range of architectural practices.

Today, as we witness a new technological shift from paper to paperless architecture, a set of external urgencies have been identified that threaten to return to a self-evident or natural relation between form and ideology. In charting two genealogies of the architectural realignment of words and things over the last fifty years (namely, the index and the speech act), the research aims to set out alternatives to this contemporary closure.

"CIVILIZING WAR: IMPERIAL POLITICS AND THE POETICS OF NATIONAL RUPTURE"

Nasser Mufti
Department of English
Date(s): Wednesday, 11/18 4:00 PM to Wednesday, 11/18 6:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower Level / Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352

Civil war is today synonymous with the developing world. It is also synonymous with debates about international intervention. Recent conflicts in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and most recently Syria are cases in point.

This is a relatively new phenomenon. For in nineteenth-century Britain, civil war was understood as a distinctly metropolitan problem rather than a crisis unique to the peripheries. Instead of justifying imperial intervention (as it does today), civil war in the Victorian imagination described those antagonisms that properly belonged to places already “civilized,” where modernity had already arrived. It is only at the turn of the century that civil war begins to justify international intervention in the name of development. This lecture offers a genealogy of civil war that tracks its metamorphosis from an Occidental affair to an Oriental crisis over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This genealogy illustrates how representations of civil war have been integral to the rise of the modern nation-state and its partner projects, imperialism and decolonization.

“HISTORIES OF MOTORING, MATERIALITY AND MOBILITIES IN BOMBAY/MUMBAI’S TAXI TRADE”

Tarini Bedi
Department of Anthropology
Date(s): Thursday, 1/28 4:00 PM to Thursday, 1/28 6:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower Level / Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352
What can an examination of particular modes of urban transport (the taxi-trade in particular) in postcolonial cities tell us about the social and cultural life of transport systems, the shifting structures of urban governance, the social and political life of transport and transport labor, and how these together shape the ways people, ideas and money are moved across urban spaces? This research, which is an anthropological history of Bombay/Mumbai’s taxi trade from the early 20th century to the present, responds to this broad question. It focuses on the taxi-trade both as site of shifting labor practices and as node in debates over urban community and kinship ties, material infrastructures, and urban governance. To address these dynamics the project takes a genealogical approach to the historiography of Bombay’s taxi transport and mobility; it traces the historically contested meanings of taxi transport as part of an urban politics rooted in present-day practices and problems. Conceptually the project integrates the fine-grained study of physical mobility and urban transport systems with the mobility of ideas, concepts and technological/material innovation as these have occurred over time. Theoretically, it is driven by what scholars point to as the surprising absence of a serious study of the social and cultural life of motoring and of transport-workers in studies of urbanization and globalization in non-Western cities. Empirically the project is driven by a focus on the labor, governance, and infrastructural aspects of taxis—(taxi-drivers, car-mechanics, permitting agents, taxi unions, urban-planners, transport consultants, police, automobile manufacturers to name a few) rather on the passenger or user experience.

Tarini Bedi is a sociocultural anthropologist and Assistant Professor in UIC’s Department of Anthropology. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of urban and political anthropology, urban theory, cultural geography, gender studies, and mobilities. Her first book “The Dashing Ladies of Shiv Sena: Political Matronage in Urbanizing India” will be released in May 2016 by SUNY Press. It provides insight into the political networks powered by low-level women politicians in postcolonial, globalizing cities and on their margins.  She is currently working on the research and writing of a book manuscript “Everyday Technologies of the Urban: Motoring and Mobilities in Bombay/Mumbai’s Taxi Trade” which is under contract with the University of Washington Press. Recent articles related to both projects have appeared or are forthcoming in the journals “Women’s Studies International Forum”, “Politics and Gender”, “Environment and Planning A”, “City and Society”, and “Mobility in History”.

“WHAT’S SEX GOT TO DO WITH IT?: JACKIE “MOMS” MABLEY, DESIRE, AND THE ETHICS OF BIOGRAPHY”

Cynthia Blair
Departments of African American Studies and History

Date(s): Monday, 2/22 4:00 PM to Monday, 2/22 6:00 PM

Campus Address: Lower Level / Stevenson Hall

Address: 701 South Morgan

Location: Chicago, IL

Contact: Linda Vavra

Email: huminst@uic.edu

Website: huminst.red.uic.edu

Phone: (312) 996-6352

Jackie “Moms” Mabley was a performer who, over a career in comedy that spanned more than 60 years, cultivated and mastered incongruities:  an old woman who on stage gleefully expressed desire for young men; a female comedian who dared to speak of black women’s sexual desire in an arena rarely forgiving women assertive enough to claim their own bodies and pleasures; a harmless grandmotherly figure who used her humor to unequivocally attack Jim Crow; a black woman whose life in public concealed the closely protected details of her private life.

“Looking for Moms Mabley” reconstructs the career of the comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley’s, from performer in tent and variety shows on the chitlin’ circuit of black theaters the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, to headliner at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater in the 1940s and ‘50s, to popular national crossover entertainer in the 1960s and 1970s.  Retracing the steps of Mabley’s stage, radio, recording, television and movie career involves not simply cataloguing the names, dates, and locations of her performances, but mapping the multiple manifestations of her comic personae, and the audiences that her shifting stage identities called into being.

Using multiple lenses to examine one woman’s career in comedy and her life beyond the stage, “Looking for ‘Moms’ Mabley” is a cultural biography that looks both at Mabley and through her.   Mabley’s humor and her eventual comedic dissemblance as “Moms” reflect her public navigation of her own sexuality and illuminate the changing racial, gender, and sexual politics of her times.

This paper will explore the challenges and possibilities, both ethical and archival, of uncovering the life behind Mabley’s well-crafted public mask

"PARADOXES OF FRANCOIST STASIS: MIGUEL ESPINOSA AND THE ART OF PROTEST"

Tatjana Gajic
Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies
Date(s): Monday, 4/11 4:00 PM to Monday, 4/11 5:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower Level / Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 South Morgan
Location: Chicago, IL
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352
The Francoist period in Spain (1939-1975) is limited, on the one hand, by the violence of the Spanish Civil War during which the regime was forged, and on the other, by the relatively peaceful process of its dissolution and Spain’s subsequent democratization. Against the particular view of Francoism as either a stage or a detour on the path leading to democracy, I study the internal complexity of the intellectual and literary production of the period by recuperating the ancient Greek concept of stasis. In contrast to its habitual meaning of absence of movement, the Greek idea of stasis is a tool for thinking conflict. While one of its usages refers to civil war or confrontation between different factions of the polis, another names a rhetorical confrontation of arguments in the court of law. By naming the co-presence of division and unity, confrontation and negotiation, the thought of stasis is closely related to both civil war and democracy. My presentation focuses on the Spanish writer Miguel Espinosa’s magnum opus, Escuela de mandarines, published in 1974, the year before Franco’s death. In this paper I argue that Espinosa’s conception of literature as a form of protest rests on juxtaposing the notion of stasis as civil war — violence that seeks to instill immobility – and stasis as sedition, a form of restlessness and movement.