Monday 26 November 2012

CIDRAL lecture, Tuesday 27th


Tuesday 27th November
5-7pm in John Casken Lecture Theatre, Martin Harris Centre

Dr Michael Mack (University of Durham)

Revisiting the Two Cultures Debate: Affect, Economics and Science

Where postmodern art and culture remain aloof or cool, contemporary society seems to have fallen prey to various anxieties and panics which grow out of an growing sense of crisis, of instability and uncertainty. The recent financial crises and their implications for increasing levels of anxiety in everyday life have lead to a change in the structure of feeling.

As part of this change in the structure of feeling, we are becoming increasingly aware of the precarious foundations of life. Judith Butler has turned her attention to what it means to live precariously. Part of this recent preoccupation with the precarious is a re-discovery of care rather than postmodern indifference and aloofness. Lauren Berlant—a leading thinker of contemporary affect theory—has thus argued for a new aesthetics that does justice to what she calls the crisis ordinariness which characterizes life in the early twentieth century. Against this background, this talk establishes the economic and cultural break of contemporary society with the optimistic belief in economic and scientific improvements which has characterized not only modern but also postmodern theory.

Dr. Michael Mack is reader in the Department of English Studies in the University of Durham. His research focuses on the mind-body divide, questions of stereotyping and exclusion (and integrative diversity) in literature, philosophy and medicine. Dr. Mack has taught at the University of Chicago, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Calgary, Syracuse University, the University of Sydney and the University of Nottingham. He has published three books: "Anthropology as Memory. Elias Canetti and Franz Baermann Steiner's Responses to the Shoah" (2001); "German Idealism and the Jew. The Inner Anti-Semitism of Philosophy and German Jewish Responses" (2003), which was shortlisted for the prestigious Koret Jewish Book Award 2004 and has been produced as an audio book (2009); and "Spinoza and the Specters of Modernity: the hidden Enlightenment of Diversity from Spinoza to Freud" (2010).

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