Theory Sessions

The Theory Sessions, a student initiative, serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas to promote interdisciplinary research in theory at the Centre and across campus. Students and faculty present their papers and engage in spirited discussions, with contributions from interested Centre scholars as well as faculty and students from other fields and disciplines at Western. Topics have included cannibalism, camp, vaginas, anarchism, bioeconomics, and photography.



The Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism presents


"Meditations on Weather & the Domestication of Death
(or, A tentative reply to Mourning Diary)"

A Theory Session 
with Katie Grant, Doctoral candidate
Respondent: Chris Coughlin


Abstract: Eight months after the death of his mother, Roland Barthes writes: “Seeing the swallows flying through the summer evening air, I tell myself[:] how barbarous not to believe in souls—in the immortality of souls! the idiotic truth of materialism!” My paper is prompted by this passage, though I aim to respond not only to that barbarous refusal, but also to a motif in Mourning Diary present here—namely, weather. Elsewhere, weather for Barthes allows us to “read” places, it is intimate with childhood and memory, and it affects the histories (“studies, diseases, appointments,” “J’aime, je n’aime pas”) which ultimately mean “my body is not the same as yours.” Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick completes a nesting-doll readership with Barthes and Proust, and through the latter she sees weather as analogous to spiritual life, especially given its circulation around and within us—e.g. A Dialogue on Love contains hot flashes and “emotional weather.” Following this trio and acknowledging the frequency at which weather imbues language and philosophy, I offer weather as a means to bring discussions of death and illness into the register of the quotidian.

Theory Sessions--a student-run initiative hosted by the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism--feature presentations from students and faculty, and are a space for discussion and sharing interdisciplinary research in theory. For those interested in running a session, volunteering to be a respondent, or who would like to chat further about getting involved: please contact Interested students and faculty based outside the Centre, please be in touch as well!

We are now welcoming:
- for those proposing sessions: abstracts (~250-300 words), tentative titles, and an expected window of readiness (i.e. please indicate if, for instance, you are merely doctoring a conference paper or thesis chapter and would be prepared to present in early October, or if you are embarking on a new project you would like to present in the winter term)

- for those interested in responding to sessions: respondents for Sessions do not need to share the presenter's expertise - a relatively meagre patch of common ground can sometimes be the best way to fuel discussion, which is the aim of the respondent. We will likely appeal again for respondents once the topics of the Sessions have been determined, but anyone who would like to be a respondent sometime this year can, at this point, contact us with a short list of interests and we will endeavour to match you up with a presenter

If you would like to give a Session, please feel free to be creative with the format of your talk. Showing a short clip of a film, presenting artwork or poetry, or engaging in a debate with another student are all options. We are happy to field any questions concerning the format or style you are considering, or on anything else about the Sessions.

We look forward to hearing from you!