Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism

2014-2015 Speaker Series

Each year The Speaker Series brings in several visiting guest lecturers. Speakers over the years have included Jean Baudrillard, Lauren Berlant, Peter Brooks, Norman Bryson, David Carroll, Anthony Cascardi, Wlad Godzich, Jean-Joseph Goux, Elizabeth Grosz, N. Katherine Hayles, Linda Hutcheon, Martin Jay, Michael Hardt, Agnes Heller, Barbara Johnson, David Farrell Krell, Murray Krieger, Arthur Kroker, Dominick LaCapra, Jerome McGann, J. Hillis Miller, Chantal Mouffe, Christopher Norris, Mark Poster, Richard Rorty, Charles Scott, Thomas Sebeok, Kaja Silverman, Gayatri Spivak, Bernard Stiegler, Samuel Weber, Hayden White, Slavoj Žižek, and many others.

This year's speakers include:

Norman Franke

"Chronotopoi of the Good Life: Bakhtin and Bloch on Goethe’s Bildungsroman and the Carnivalesque"

September 16, 2014

On the strengths of his Bildungsromane, Goethe was a towering figure in the literary pantheon of Mikhail Bakhtin and Ernst Bloch, yet both were also interested in forms of the carnivalesque. In this paper I explore the parallels and differences in their writings about the bourgeois novel, as well as their anarchic charades, with a view to assessing how their interest in these very different artistic and social practices can be understood in the wider context of their utopian thinking and their political eschatologies. I argue that both cultural philosophers understand ‘high art’ and ‘popular art’ as complementary forms of reflection of and agents for social and cultural transformation.
Both Bloch and Bakhtin shared a fascination with Goethe’s artistic realisation and conceptualization of the Bildungsroman, particularly Goethe’s two part novel Wilhelm Meister (1795/96, 1829). In contrast to orthodox Marxist critics, they did not read Wilhelm Meister as a mere literary superstructure of bourgeois capitalism, but as a complex artwork in which the varied times and spaces of the narrative obtain a transitional and transformative dimension that transcended the narrow confines of its chronological and geographical origins. In the surviving manuscripts of his The Bildungsroman and its Significance in the History of Realism, Bakhtin submits that the pluriform and dynamic “chronotopoi” of the novel did not only represent fictionalized historical culture but invite questions and dialogues about societies and cultures in transition, thereby opening up opportunities for social and cultural change. Within the wider context of his Marxist utopian theory, Bloch saw the novel’s protagonist as on an educational journey that resembled a dialectical process. In this process youthful artistic idealism and mature realism, individual endeavour and social responsibility lead to a higher synthesis of individual and collective empowerment. For both thinkers reading Goethe had the potential to provide guidance and challenges in answering the old philosophical question of how to conduct a good life.
Pursuing Bakhtin’s and Bloch’s interest in the carnivalesque, the paper also raises the question what Wilhelm Meister may have to do with John Chrysostom, Stalin and Pussy Riot.

Andre Pietsch Lima

"On creative processes (Simondon/Deleuze)"

October 15, 2014


Françoise Meltzer

"The Ethics of Ruins: Berlin 1945"

October 29, 2014


Frances Dyson

"Sound, Sense and Sensing"

November 11, 2014


Past Speakers:

Nick Srnicek
The Eyes of the State
April 9, 2014

Alenka Zupančič
Power and Comedy
April 4, 2014

Claire Colebrook
Exceptional Disaster
March 26, 2014

Brett Buchanan
What is called behaviour?
Ethological articulations of bodies in contemporary continental philosophy
March 13, 2014

Simon Critchley
The Problem with Levinas
March 6, 2014

Steven Shaviro
on Scott Bakker's Neuropath
February 13 , 2014

Jack Halberstam
Against Marriage?
February 6, 2014

Paul Anthony Smith
Failure and Victimology: On Laruelle's Mutation of Marxism
November 14, 2013

Peter Stallybrass
"Marx's Coat"
November 8, 2013

Clint Burnham
"Slavoj Žižek as Internet Philosopher"
September 23, 2013