Session 3: Violence (Monday 28th February)

"It is no doubt possible to create conditions under which men are dehumanized ... and, under such conditions, not rage and violence but their conspicuous absence is the clearest sign of dehumanization."
- Hannah Arendt


6-8pm, Monday 28th February
Senate House, room 103 (1st floor)

Is violence endemic to the human condition? What role does it play in the contemporary world? Can it ever be justified? And what ethical concerns does it raise for literature, the arts and critical theory?

Our third session this term will be introduced with a 10-minute 'provocation' by Dr Eva Aldea (Westminster and Goldsmiths). Eva's current research focuses on beheadings, including videos of terrorist beheadings. It argues that such violence can be understood as a system of signs, and asks if this is what makes it uniquely human.

The readings are extracts from the following:

  • Adriana Cavarero, Horrorism: Naming Contemporary Violence, Trans. William McCuaig (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).
  • Slavoj Žižek, Violence: Six Sideways Reflections (London: Profile, 2009).

All are welcome to attend.


Session 2: Speaker: Professor Derek Attridge (Monday 14th February)

'What Does it Make You Feel?: Responding Affectively to Literature'

Professor Derek Attridge

(University of York)

Monday 14th February, 3-5pm Senate House, room 103 (1st floor)

Derek Attridge has published many influential books on literature and theory, most recently
The Singularity of Literature (Routledge, 2004), How to Read Joyce (Granta Books, 2007), and Reading and Responsibility: Deconstruction's Traces (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), as well as the forthcoming co-edited volume Theory After 'Theory' (with Jane Elliot, Routledge, 2010). His interests centre on the language of literature, but radiate in many different directions. Much of his work reflects his long association with the philosopher Jacques Derrida, a selection of whose work he has edited. In The Singularity of Literature, he raises the question of the distinctiveness of literature as a linguistic and social practice, and argues that a crucial element is the response to otherness that characterises both the writing of an inventive literary work and the reading of it as literature. This book is also informed by recent developments in ethics arising from the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. In September 2006 he won an ESSE Book Award for this work.

This session should appeal broadly to students of literature, as well as those from other disciplines with an interest in critical theory.

All are welcome to attend. We hope to see you there!