Fellows Lectures Archive (2016-2017)

"WRITING IN THE THIRD LANGUAGE: BRUNO SCHULZ AND JEWISH MODERNITY"

Karen Underhill is Assistant Professor of Polish Literature and Polish-Jewish Studies in the UIC Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures. Her research at the intersection of Polish and Jewish cultures and literatures focuses on Polish and Yiddish modernisms; Bruno Schulz and Galician Jewish culture in the interwar period; and changing narratives of Poland as a multilingual and pluralist space of encounter.  She received her PhD in Polish and Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago in 2011, was 2012-2013 Joseph Kremen Memorial Fellow at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research; and is co-founder of Massolit Books & Cafe in Kraków.  Her publications, including  “What Have You Done with the Book?: The Exegetical ‘Encounter’ in Bruno Schulz’s Graphic Works”; “Toward a Diasporic Poland/Polin: Zeitlin, Sutzkever, and the Ghost Dance with Jewish Poland” and “Writing in the Third Language: Between Sacred and Profane in Gershom Scholem and Jacques Derrida”, have appeared in or are forthcoming in POLIN Journal, East European Politics and Societies (EEPS), Slavic and East European Journal (SEEJ), Teksty Drugie, Czas Kultury, and Ruch Literacki. She is currently preparing a book manuscript entitled “Writing in the Third Language: Bruno Schulz and Jewish Modernity”.

Date(s): Monday, 10/17 4:00 PM to Monday, 10/17 6:00 PM

Campus Address: Lower level – Stevenson Hall

Address: 701 S. Morgan Street

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Contact: Linda Vavra

Email: huminst@uic.edu

Website: huminst.red.uic.edu

Phone: (312) 996-6352

Since the 1989 transition to democracy in Poland, and the gradual return of the repressed discourses of Jewish and Ukrainian history and culture to the Polish scholarly landscape, a radical revision of scholarly approaches to Polish literature and culture has been underway. Through reevaluation of the work of one of Polish modernism’s leading representatives, Galician Jewish writer and graphic artist Bruno Schulz (1892-1942), this project argues for a new, multilingual, transnational and comparative approach to the study of the shared political and social landscape of Polish and Yiddish modernisms. Placing Bruno Schulz’s work in conversation with that of his contemporaries from the Lwow/Lemberg region, Yiddish-language poet and critic Debora Vogel, and representatives of fin-de-siecle Jewish Renaissance Movement Martin Buber and Ephraim Moses Lilien, as well as with the work of Walter Benjamin, the study draws on and contributes to the argument that peripheral modernisms have a key role to play in generating narratives and narrative spaces of resistance, asylum and liberation.

"SEEING LIKE A STATE"

Blake Stimson is Professor of Art History and 2016-2017 Humanities Institute Fellow at UIC. He is the author, most recently, of Citizen Warhol (Reaktion Books 2014).

Date(s): Tuesday, 11/15 4:00 PM to Tuesday, 11/15 6:00 PM

Campus Address: Lower level – Stevenson Hall

Address: 701 S. Morgan Street

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Contact: Linda Vavra

Email: huminst@uic.edu

Website: huminst.red.uic.edu

Phone: (312) 996-6352

While working as Director of the Mexican government’s Oficina de Fotografía y Cinematografía in 1933-34, world-leading modernist photographer Paul Strand was given the charge “to demonstrate in an objective manner the possibility of a social regimen whose justice is rooted in all men working and all equally obtaining the satisfaction of their needs.” This directive would radically transform his art and aims up until his death in 1976 and set it on a course running opposite to the emerging neoliberal consensus forged at the same time and best summed up by Margaret Thatcher’s latter-day dictum “There’s no such thing as society.” At the heart of Strand’s enterprise was an effort to see like such a social regimen, and he worked to do so on behalf of many including Nkrumah’s Ghana, Nasser’s Egypt, the PCI’s Italy, and the Senate La Follette Committee’s United States. This talk will explore what it is exactly that one sees in this statist mode and how it differs from the Thatcherian form of seeing that, in the main, we have all come to adopt as our own.

EDMUND BURKE AND HANNAH ARENDT: POVERTY, RESENTMENT, AND THE SOCIAL QUESTION

Sunil Agnani
Department of English and Department of History

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Hannah Arendt’s 1963 work On Revolution is a striking document for the way it brings together a range of issues having to do with the decade of its composition alongside its formulation of the meaning and legacy of “Enlightenment” in conjunction with the subject matter of its title. A reader of Edmund Burke who turns to this work will be startled at the degree to which he plays a central role; indeed, his ideas and even his temperament seem to guide her profound praise for the men who made the American Revolution alongside her shock centered around Robespierre but laced throughout her discussion of Rousseau and the events of the French Revolution. This connection between Burke and Arendt is worth tracing and exploring for many reasons: it allows us to understand her response to the 20th-century post-war world which witnessed the emergence of manifold diverse “revolutions” in the social and political realm, both in the European and non-European (i.e. Asian, African, postcolonial) contexts. It also allows us to question Arendt’s critical view of the role that suffering and poverty ought to play in moments of revolution, and to scrutinize her thesis that wherever a solution to the “social” question of poverty and suffering was sought by “political” means it has led to terror and violence.

 Date(s): Thursday, 1/26 4:00 PM to Thursday, 1/26 7:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower level – Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 S. Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, Illinois , United States
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352

THE DESTRUCTION OF HEROISM IN SHAKESPEAREAN TRAGEDY

Mary Beth Rose
Department of English

The Destruction of Heroism in Shakespearean Tragedy:

Suicide in Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra

After the death of the hero, Shakespearean tragedy presents no possibility of an expansive or hopeful future.  The future will be a diminished thing; the best was.  In contrast, Greek tragic heroes can live on, redeemed, as Orestes is; or they can die blessed, as Oedipus does, with the location of his grave ensuring the future safety of Athens.  But in Shakespearean tragedy, the foreclosure of the future is unrelenting.  In aesthetic terms, the major formal fact of the genre is the finality of the individual’s death.  By enclosing the hero’s death and mourning it, Shakespeare grants it dignity and significance: it is where the center of meaning lies.  At the same time, I argue, the whole body of Shakespeare’s tragedies represents the heroic ideal as increasingly unworkable.  Shakespearean tragedy destroys the possibility of heroism itself.

My talk will focus on the ways in which the heroic action of suicide in two of Shakespeare’s Roman plays intervenes counterintuitively in the process of tragic meaning-making.  In an analysis distinguishing classical from early modern views of suicide, I will suggest that when protagonists in Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra commit suicide, they are seeking to reconstitute tragic mourning as a kind of victory.  In Julius Caesar, the suicidal effort to defy loss fails; while in Antony and Cleopatra the heroic effort to refigure loss as profit through the act of suicide partially succeeds.

 Date(s): Monday, 2/13 4:00 PM to Monday, 2/13 6:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower level – Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 S. Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352

UIC FACULTY FELLOW LECTURE: AIDAN GRAY, "CONSTELLATIONS OF REFERENCE: RELATIONAL APPROACHES TO LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT"

Assistant Professor Aidan Gray
Department of Philosophy

In this talk I describe a tension between two plausible ideas about the mind: 1) That when we explain the mind in characteristically rational terms – in terms of beliefs, desires, etc – our explanations depend only on the representational content of mental states, and 2) That thinkers have perspectives on objects, and that these perspectives are relevant to rational explanation.

I will draw out the difficulty in fitting these two ideas together and suggest that we should abandon the first one. This will put us in a position to describe the outlines of an approach which replaces talk of perspective with talk of sameness-of-perspective, and treats sameness-of-perspective as a non-representational matter. I close by raising some questions about this approach.

Aidan Gray is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UIC. He received his PhD from The University of Chicago in 2012. His research interests are in the philosophy of language, theoretical linguistics, and the history of analytic philosophy. He has a particular focus on reference, and the way that traditional philosophical questions about reference relate to contemporary issues in linguistics.

Date(s): Thursday, 3/9 4:00 PM to Thursday, 3/9 6:00 PM

Campus Address: Lower level – Stevenson Hall
Address: 701 S. Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352

UIC FACULTY FELLOW LECTURE: MARK CANUEL, "BRITISH ROMANTICISM AND THE FATE OF PROGRESS"

2016-2017 Faculty Fellow: Mark Canuel, UIC Department of English
“British Romanticism and the Fate of Progress”

Romantic writers often appropriated the narratives of cultural progress—emphasizing improvements in science, technology, and manners—which they had inherited from the eighteenth century.  At the same time, they frequently refused the conclusions of those writers, showing how the political world was far too fractious and divided to assume a uniform advancement over time.   In this paper, I show how many of Keats’s poems take part in this general trend.  His works proudly participate in a “grand march of the intellect,” but their sense of cultural advancement finally depends only on undermining, questioning, or even emptying the content of their enlightened quest.

Mark Canuel is Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  His publications include Religion, Toleration, and British Writing (Cambridge UP 2002) and The Shadow of Death: Literature, Romanticism, and the Subject of Punishment (Princeton UP 2007) which studies the relationship between debates about the death penalty and modern notions of political sovereignty.

 Date(s): Monday, 4/3 4:00 PM to Monday, 4/3 6:00 PM
Campus Address: Lower level – Stevenson hall
Address: 701 S. Morgan Street
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Contact: Linda Vavra
Phone: (312) 996-6352