Events


Jul
7
2:30 PM14:30

American Comparative Literature Association Conference

"From Socinian Divine Order to Bureaucratic Dread: The Afterlife of John Graunt in Leibniz, Defoe, and Kafka" on panel "Literatures of Heterodoxy and Cultural Change"

In times of crisis, obscure religious beliefs are often revived as technologies of cultural production. The Socinian Puritans in Early Modern England present one such case. Socinians held that truth was found by the use of critical reason alone, rather than clerical authority. The Christian calling was to assert God’s sovereignty by working to find the underlying order of things, reduced to core facts, to stave off the chaos of the world. John Graunt, Royal Society member and father of national statistics in Britain, grew up a Socinian during the mayhem of the English Civil War and experienced the traumatic Great Plague of 1666. To bring order to his unsettled time, Graunt organized plague death records into statistical tables and extrapolated timeless demographic principles from them in his seminal Bills of Mortality. Graunt’s legacy is twofold. Leibniz cites Graunt’s influence on his theories of bureaucratic state administration, whose recent afterlife in literary criticism includes media theorist Cornelia Vismann’s readings of Melville and Kafka. Graunt’s tables reappear as a literary device in Defoe’s 1722 novel Journal of the Plague Year. A Presbyterian dissenter suspicious of state administration as a threat to freedom of conscience, Defoe inverts Graunt’s intent, employing statistical tables to create a sense of inescapable dread. This use of Graunt’s work echoes in Kafka, too, in the hopelessness of facing a quasi-divine, inscrutable bureaucratic account of reality. (View the ACLA 2017 conference program)

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Apr
6
10:00 AM10:00

Shakespeare Association of America Conference

  • Atlanta, Georgia United States of America (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

"Chasing Apt Matter: The Hunt as an Early Modern Cognitive Metaphor for Inventio in Shakespeare's Othello" in seminar "Cognition in the Early Modern Period"

“My invention comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize,” Iago complains to Desdemona, employing the imagery of hunting birds to describe one of the five canons of rhetoric. Inventio is a defining concept of the Early Modern period. It is also a defining concept for theories of cognition. Like Iago, Thomas Wilson, in his 1551 logical manual Rule of Reason, likens finding “apte matter” and “thynges likely” to “prove any cause, and … teach thereby the truth” to flushing out foxes on a hunt. Comparing knowledge-making to the chase originates at the highly literary medieval Sicilian court of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. The emperor composed a treatise on falconry, The Art of Hunting with Birds, in which he rejects Aristotelian authority and likens his own method of knowledge-gathering to a hovering hunting falcon, who “sees things as they really are.” Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz would later posit that sovereignty necessitates “driving facts into a corner” to allow the king to see his kingdom “at one glance.” On stage and at court, the Early Modern concept of  inventive cognition is a lively one, echoing with the noises of the wild chase, and ringing with the hunting horn. (View the SAA 2017 conference program)

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Mar
31
3:30 PM15:30

Renaissance Society of America Conference

  • Chicago, Illinois United States of America (map)
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"Performing Political Secrecy on the Early Modern Stage" on panel "Early Modern States of Mind"

Is it possible to disentangle the representation of a state of mind from its expression, particularly in Early Modern theatre? “Media determine our situation,” Friedrich Kittler observes, and Samuel Weber reminds us that theatricality is a determinative medium. Kittler’s word for situation is lage: “how things lie,” the situated nature of a thing in its circumstance. Given these conceptualizations, secretiveness is a state of mind particularly suited to be examined as embodied in the medium of Early Modern theatre. But where is the proverbial smoking gun? It occurs on a night in 1594, at Gray’s Inn in London. The audience is packed with all those officers of state who determine policy, and none other than Francis Bacon treats them to a theatrical performance that features as both the enactment of the structures of political secrecy and as the rhetorical invention of policy itself, carefully recorded in the Gesta Grayorum. The performance is a draft of the House of Solomon passages in New Atlantis, widely taken to be the model of the modern research university -- and of the contemporary intelligence agency. (View the RSA 2017 conference program)

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Red Guns by Kadie Salfi
Mar
24
to Apr 7

Red Guns by Kadie Salfi

  • Ithaca, New York United States of America (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

As part of my work as a Graduate Resident Fellow at Alice Cook House, Cornell University, I have co-curated an exhibit by local Ithaca artist Kadie Salfi, titled Red Guns. Kadie Salfi is the partner of Jason Salfi, an Alice Cook House Fellow. Alice Cook House Fellows create engaged learning experiences with and for Alice Cook House residents and the larger Cornell community. Red Guns is an art exhibit that thematizes mass school shootings in America, as a way to spark a conversation about American attitudes towards gun culture. Red Guns has been curated by myself and fellow Alice Cook House GRF Sadé Ayorinde, installed with the help of student residents, and exhibited in the Willard Straight Hall Gallery at Cornell University in March and April 2017. It was accompanied by discussion panels, contextualizing materials, and a reception. (View press articles from the Cornell Daily Sun and Of Note Magazine)

 

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