Imre Szeman

Events (2010-2011)

New Directions in Culture, Politics and Theory

2010-2011 Lecture Series

Presented by the Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and
the Department of English and Film Studies

All talks held in Humanities Centre Lecture Theatre 3 (HC L-3)
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Fall 2010

Thursday, September 16
“Synthesis and Horizon in the Science of Experience”
Nicholas Brown, Director of African-American Studies and Associate Professor of English, University of Illinois-Chicago

Every careful reader of Hegel knows that there is little in his philosophy that corresponds to the stereotype of Hegelian synthesis, that is, to the tidy resolution of antagonisms or logical incompatibilities. On the other hand, the overarching logic of Phenomenology of Spirit is not one of deferral, of “differences without positive terms,” a logic Hegel will apply strategically, but which does not characterize the movement of the whole. Is there a single logic undergirding the Phenomenology? Is this what Hegel means by “system,” and is there still something of value in this now old-fashioned word? Most importantly: why does any of this matter today?

Nicholas Brown heads the African American Studies department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His recent Utopian Generations: The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature (Princeton UP, 2005) examines the relationship between African literature and European modernism, and the relationship of each to continuing crises in the global economic system. His current book project is Hegel for Marxists (and Marxism for Everyone).

Wednesday, September 29
“History of the Political Center: The Case of The Economist
Andrew Pendakis, Lecturer, North American Studies Program, University of Bonn

The widespread contemporary tendency to flag one´s political position as “independent”; the discomfort expressed by individuals at being politically “labeled” or “categorized”; the cultural insistence that truth is “somewhere in the middle”; the shift within contemporary European philosophy towards a rhetoric of dialogue and inter-subjectivity; the emphasis on “bi-partisanship” and “co-operation” within the parliamentary protocols of electoral politics; the prevalence of a whole ensemble of everyday knowledges associating “being centered” with being what one is: all of this — to say nothing of the emergence of parties explicitly oriented around a thematics of the center (Neue Mitte in Germany) — points to a diffuse, yet integrated centrist culture that is in many ways the dominant horizon of political fantasy and practice in postmodern societies. This talk will open up a small wedge into this complex by exploring the historical formation of The Economist magazine‘´s specific brand of “radical centrism,” one premised on a middle loaded with connotations of flexibility, skeptical intransigence, and hard-nosed critical acumen.

Andrew Pendakis is Visiting Scholar of North American Studies at the University of Bonn. He recently completed his dissertation, The Dialectics of Middleness, and is co-editing Contemporary Marxist Theory: An Anthology for the University of Minnesota Press.

Thursday, October 14
“The Small World of Petrocarbons”
Gordon Laird, journalist and author (most recently) of The Price of a Bargain: The Quest for Cheap and the Death of Globalization

Tuesday, November 9
On Film, Theory, & ‘Film as Philosophy’: Or, Philosophy Goes ‘Pop’”
Todd Dufresne, Director of the Advanced Institute for Globalization & Culture, and Research Chair of Social and Cultural Theory, Lakehead University

Over the last decade philosophers have increasingly, if not aggressively, staked out an interest in film. Dufresne examines this trend, focusing most especially on the strong version of the “film-as-philosophy” thesis as advanced by Stephen Mulhall in 2001 and again in 2008. Mulhall’s primary claim, arguably, is that film that reflects upon its own conditions is philosophical. Dufresne assesses Mulhall’s ‘reading’ of the ‘Alien’ films, measuring it against other examples within ‘film-philosophy’, and then advances a number of prescriptive remarks about the field. Among them is a pointed provocation: perhaps the best philosophers of film working today are actually film theorists.

Todd Dufresne is Professor of Philosophy, founding Director of The Advanced Institute for Globalization & Culture (aig+c), and Research Chair of Social and Cultural Theory (2008-2010) at Lakehead University. He is also an Associated Scholar at The Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto (2008-2011).

Winter 2011

Thursday, January 13
“Of Anarchists, Terrorists, and an Abu Ghraib Novel”
Terri Tomsky, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

Thursday, February 3
“Luminous Trash: Throwaway Robots in Blade Runner, the Terminators, AI, and Wall-E.”
Patrica Yaeger, Henry Simmons Frieze Collegiate Professor of English and Women’s Studies, and editor of PMLA, University of Michigan

Thursday, March 3
“The Aesthetics of Saturation”
Marija Cetinić, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

Tuesday, March 8
Melissa Aronczyk, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Carleton University

Friday, March 18
Althea Thauberger, visual artist, Vancouver.

May 5
Pedro Reyes, visual artist, Mexico City.