“Difference/Distance: Picturing Race Across Oceans in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”

Pirogue-de-lIle-de-Paque.

Todd Olson, Professor of Art History at the University of California, Berkeley and member of the Representations Editorial Board, will participate in a conference on “Difference/Distance: Picturing Race Across Oceans in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” The conference will take place on April 15 in 308A Doe Library, UC Berkeley; further schedule details can be found here.

 

In addition, the conference will feature papers by Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby (Professor of Art History at UC Berkeley) and Krista Thompson (Professor of Art History at Northwestern University). Grigsby and Thompson published related work in the Representations 113 special issue “New World Slavery and the Matter of the Visual” (Winter 2011), which they co-edited with Huey Copeland (Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University).

Representations’ Stephen Greenblatt wins 2016 Holberg Prize

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Stephen Greenblatt, founding co-editor of Representations and John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, has been named the 2016 Holberg Prize Laureate. The prize, awarded annually by the Norwegian government, is given to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology. Previous laureates include Julia Kristeva, Jürgen Habermas, Natalie Zemon Davis, Manuel Castells, Bruno Latour, and Marina Warner.

“His scholarship has had an immeasurable impact on the practices of literary studies, history and cultural criticism, well beyond his own field of expertise,” noted the Holberg Committee. “Greenblatt has provided us a vocabulary through which we can approach the task of understanding our times and its history. His work has been animated by the idea of life as art, and art as revealing something important about life.”

An award ceremony will take place in Bergen, Norway, in June 2016, to honor both Greenblatt as the Holberg Prize Laureate, and Nils Klim Prize laureate, Sanja Bogojević, Senior Lecturer at Lund University.

Symposium on Imagination

Symposium on the Imagination

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Natura Morta, 1956, Giorgio Morandi

Friday, Feb 19, 2016 | 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley

A day-long conversation exploring the riches of the imagination among scholars, including Representations editors and authors David Bates, Victoria Kahn, Anthony Long, Mary Ann Smart, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Paula Varsano.

Books of 2015: Editorial Board Round-Up

David Bates, ed. (with Nima Bassiri), Plasticity and Pathology: On the Formation of the Neural Subject, Fordham University Press and the Townsend Center for the Humanities

9780823266135_23This collection of essays brings together a diverse range of scholars to investigate how the “neural subject” of the twenty-first century came to be. Taking approaches both historical and theoretical, they probe the possibilities and limits of neuroscientific understandings of human experience. Topics include landmark studies in the history of neuroscience, the relationship between neural and technological “pathologies,” and analyses of contemporary concepts of plasticity and pathology in cognitive neuroscience. Central to the volume is a critical examination of the relationship between pathology and plasticity. Because pathology is often the occasion for neural reorganization and adaptation, it exists not in opposition to the brain’s “normal” operation but instead as something intimately connected to our ways of being and understanding.

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Dan Blanton, Epic Negation: The Dialectical Poetics of Late Modernism, Oxford University Press

Jahan Ramazani (University of Virginia): “Intricately studying allusion and intergeneric relations in late modernism, C. D. Blanton’s capacious and deeply thoughtful Epic Negation traces how extrinsic voices, historical forces, and forms snake their way into even seemingly closed poems. With its fusion of sinuous close readings and lively theoretical analysis, Blanton’s book makes a serious contribution to twentieth-century poetry studies.”

 

41rpXeBKT0L._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_Beate Fricke (English trans. of 2007 book), Fallen Idols, Risen Saints: Sainte Foy of Conques and the Revival of Monumental Sculpture in Medieval Art, Brepols Publishers

This book investigates the origins and transformations of medieval image culture and its reflections in theology, hagiography, historiography and art. It deals with a remarkable phenomenon: the fact that, after a period of 500 years of absence, the tenth century sees a revival of monumental sculpture in the Latin West. . . . Drawing on the historical investigation of specific objects and texts between the ninth and the eleventh century, the book outlines an occidental history of image culture, visuality and fiction, claiming that only images possess modes of visualizing what in the discourse of medieval theology can never be addressed and revealed.
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Beate Fricke, ed. (with  Urte Krass), The Public in the Picture: Involving the Beholder in Antique, Islamic, Byzantine, Western Medieval and Renaissance Art, University of Chicago Press

The act of including bystanders within the scene of an artwork has marked an important shift in the ways artists addressed the beholder, as well as a significant transformation of the relationship between images and their viewership. In such works, the “public” in the picture could be seen as a mediating between different times, people, and contents.

 

Steve Justice, Adam Usk’s Secret, University of Pennsylvania Press

Andrew Galloway (Cornell University): “In prose that is 15368extraordinarily alive both to its subject and to its own suspenseful disclosures, Steven Justice teaches us to read a Latin chronicle as a piece of written craft, and few have sustained that attention this far or this finely. More importantly, Justice assesses and advances major principles of narrative interpretation, concerning how narratives relate to contexts, how rhetorical traditions foster or undermine particular visions of history, and how the discipline of literary analysis maintains a delicate balance between rigorous adherence to its established tenets and wider connections to other questions and explanations—matters that must surely energize discussion among humanities scholars of all periods.”

 

Tom Laqueur, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains, Princeton University Press

k10535The Greek philosopher Diogenes said that when he died his body should be tossed over the city walls for beasts to scavenge. Why should he or anyone else care what became of his corpse? In The Work of the Dead, acclaimed cultural historian Thomas Laqueur examines why humanity has universally rejected Diogenes’s argument. No culture has been indifferent to mortal remains. Even in our supposedly disenchanted scientific age, the dead body still matters—for individuals, communities, and nations. A remarkably ambitious history, The Work of the Dead offers a compelling and richly detailed account of how and why the living have cared for the dead, from antiquity to the twentieth century.

 

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Saba Mahmood, Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report, Princeton University Press

The plight of religious minorities in the Middle East is often attributed to the failure of secularism to take root in the region. Religious Difference in a Secular Age challenges this assessment by examining four cornerstones of secularism—political and civil equality, minority rights, religious freedom, and the legal separation of private and public domains.

 

 

9780226248509Saba Mahmood, ed. (with Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, and Peter G. Danchin), Politics of Religious Freedom, U of Chicago Press

Talal Asad (CUNY Graduate Center): “The principle of religious freedom, central to the liberal politics of the modern world, is increasingly becoming an object of critical reflection. This collection, edited by four distinguished scholars, is a welcome contribution to this important topic. I have learnt something from each of these thoughtful essays. Everyone interested in recent debates on secularism will benefit from reading them.”

Tom Laqueur interviewed on Fresh Air

j10535If you missed it today, you can still listen to Terry Gross’s interview of Tom Laqueur at Fresh Air at NPR.org. Gross talks with Laqueur, a member of Representations‘ editorial board since the journal’s founding in 1983, about his new book The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (Princeton, 2015).

Thomas Laqueur is a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. His other books include Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud and Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.

 

Breaking News! Yurchak Wins Russia’s Prosvetitel Prize

Congratulations to Representations editorial board member Alexei Yurchak, whose Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation («Это было навсегда, пока не кончилось») has been awarded Russia’s prestigious 2015 Prosvetitel Prize. The English version of the book was published in 2006 and shortly thereafter won the Wayne Vucinic Book Award for best book of the year from the American Society for Eastern European, Eurasian, and Slavic Studies. The expanded version, rewritten by Yurchak in Russian and published last year, was one of four books nominated for the Prosvetitel Prize in the humanities.

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Yurchak accepts the Prosvetitel Prize in Moscow.

Yurchak’s much talked about “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty” appeared earlier this year in Representations 129.

Representations’ Michael Lucey in conversation with Rita Felski

Michael Lucey, Professor of French and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley and member of the Representations editorial board, will participate in a conversation with Rita Felski, William R. Kenan Professor of English at the University of Virginia and editor of New Literary History, on “Attachment Theory,” following Felski’s lecture on the topic.

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The event will take place on Thursday, November 19 at 5:30 p.m., in the Maude Fife Room (315 Wheeler Hall) at UC Berkeley.

 

Felski will also participate in a colloquium the following day on her recent book, The Limits of Critique, which engages in ongoing debates about modes of reading in which Representations has been central (see Representations 108, “The Way We Read Now” [Fall 2009]). The colloquium will take place in 300 Wheeler Hall on Friday, November 20 from 12-2 p.m.

Representations’ Stephen Greenblatt on the Humanities

0_GreenblattStephen Greenblatt, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University and a member of the founding board of Representations, will present a lecture entitled “In the Cave: The Humanities and the Human Condition.” The lecture will take place at 5:00pm on Thursday, September 3 in 315 Wheeler Hall (Maude Fife Room).

One of the oddest features of the Humanities is their almost complete lack of progress. With technology, science, and medicine, we expect and indeed demand the latest, most advanced version; with the Humanities the latest is not necessarily the best, and the aging of work–that is, distance from the immediate circumstances of our lives–simply does not matter. How is that possible? In this lecture, Greenblatt will talk about the paintings in the cave de Chauvet, from 30,000 years ago, and then turn to Gilgamesh, Genesis, and the Iliad. What do these artifacts, among the earliest that survive, have to tell us about the ways that the Humanities make us human?

Representations’ Beate Fricke receives ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship

Congratulations to Representations editorial board member Beate Fricke. Fricke and Finbarr Barry Flood (NYU) have been awarded an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship for their research project, Object Histories—Flotsam as Early Globalism.

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Fricke (associate professor in the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley) and Flood (William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities at New York University) have received a 2016-2017 ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship. The program provides support to small teams of two or more scholars to collaborate on a single, substantive project.

 

In Object Histories—Flotsam as Early Globalism, Fricke and Flood draw from case studies in the medieval European and Islamic worlds to tackle methodological and theoretical issues of writing histories of flotsam, when the only source one has is a unique surviving artifact, image, or monument divorced from other documentation of its contexts. The authors describe the project as follows:

 

“The past decade has witnessed the proliferation of histories written on and from objects. This reflects a number of significant developments in the humanities, from increased attention to circulation, gifting, and the early history of commodities, to a renewed concern with materiality and the potential agency of material things. Historians of medieval art often face the challenge of writing histories for which unique artifacts, images, or monuments are the only available archives. In these cases, the object functions as its own archive, the absence of related written sources compelling the researcher to pursue compensatory lines of historical inquiry. But how does one choose where to start, which lines to trace, and which to ignore or neglect? The collaboration between Finbarr Flood and Beate Fricke considers such questions in relation to the writing of connected histories focused on medieval flotsam—artifacts or images that appear as unique survivals. It explores the pre-modern reception of such objects, their capacity to stimulate new artistic trends, and the methodological problems inherent in treating artifacts as archives to facilitate the writing of medieval histories in the present.”

 

For more information about Object Histories, visit the ACLS project site.

 

Representations’ Andrew Jones receives Guggenheim

Congratulations to Representations editorial board member Andrew F. Jones.

 

Jones, professor and Louis B. Agassiz Chair in Chinese in the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at UC Berkeley, has been awarded a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship. Jones was selected as one of 175 scholars, scientists, and artists across the United States and Canada who have shown “prior achievement and exceptional promise” in their work.

 

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At Berkeley, Jones teaches modern Chinese literature and media culture. His Like a Knife: Ideology and Genre in Contemporary Chinese Popular Music (Cornell East Asia Series, 1992) was the first book-length study of the emergence of Chinese rock music in the years before and after the Tiananmen movement of 1989. Yellow Music: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age (Duke University Press, 2001) explored the cultural history of modern Chinese music, tracing its emergence from out of the complex musical and media topography of colonial Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. With the support of the Guggenheim foundation, he will complete a book entitled Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Transistor Era, which will listen to the sonic history of the long global 1960s from the perspective of a place that is usually dismissed as marginal to the musical revolutions of those years. The book will attempt to write China back into the narrative of how we hear the explosion of new popular musics for which these years are famous; and by the same token, reinsert the “global” into our sometimes hermetic sense of Chinese cultural history in those years.