Sat Oct 24, 2020, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Pacific Time
In The Trouble with Literature (Oxford, 2020), Victoria Kahn (UC Berkeley Comparative Literature and English) argues that the literature of the English Reformation marks a turning point in Western thinking about literature and literariness. But instead of arguing that the Reformation fostered English literature, as scholars have often done, Kahn claims that literature helped undo the Reformation.
Tracing the roots of the modern understanding of literature as offering aesthetic, non-cognitive pleasure, Kahn probes the implications that such a notion has for our understanding of both poetry and belief. The book is based on the Clarendon Lectures in English Literature, which Kahn delivered at Oxford in 2017.
She is joined by Niklaus Largier (UCB German and Comparative Literature). After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.
Kahn’s most recent essay for Representations is Art, Judaism, and the Critique of Fascism in the Work of Ernst Cassirer.
Largier is a long-time member of the Representations editorial board and is the co-editor of the journal’s upcoming special issue “Practices of Devotion” (coming in February).
The UC Berkeley History Department presents a panel discussion with three UCB professors:
David Henkin is Professor of History at UC Berkeley and a member of the Representations editorial board. His essay “Hebdomadal Form: Diaries, News, and the Shape of the Modern Week” was published in Representations 131.
Waldo E. Martin is Professor of History at UC Berkeley.
Ronit Stahl is Assistant Professor of History Department at UC Berkeley.
Maya Sisneros, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-642-1092
Zoom link forthcoming, check back here.
In 1831 Virginia, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion that killed fifty-five whites; after more than two months in hiding, he was captured, convicted, and executed. The figure of Turner had an immediate and broad impact on the American South, and his rebellion remains one of the most momentous episodes in American history.
Working against the historical caricature of Turner as befuddled mystic and self-styled Baptist preacher, Christopher Tomlins (UCB Professor of Law) probes the haunting persona of this legendary American slave rebel — exploring Turner’s self-discovery, the dawning of his Christian faith, and the impossible task given to him by God. Tomlins also undertakes a critical examination of William Styron’s 1967 novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner, which restored Turner to the American consciousness in the era of civil rights, black power, and urban riots.
Christopher Tomlins is the author of many books and articles on legal history. His primary affiliation at Berkeley Law is to the Jurisprudence and Social Policy (PhD) program, in which he teaches courses on legal history and, in particular, the history and law of slavery.
Tomlins is joined by Bryan Wagner (UCB Associate Professor of English). Wagner is the author of “Disarmed and Dangerous: The Strange Career of Bras-Coupéé” (Representations 92) and other works on on African American expression in the context of slavery and its aftermath, legal history, and vernacular culture.
After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.
In Pindar, Song, and Space (Johns Hopkins, 2019), Leslie Kurke and coauthor Richard Neer develop a new, integrated approach to classical Greece — a “lyric archaeology” that combines literary and art-historical analysis with archaeological and epigraphic materials.
The focus of their study is the poet Pindar of Thebes, best known for his odes in honor of victors at the Olympic Games and other competitions. While recent classical scholarship has tended to isolate poetry, art, and archaeology, Kurke and Neer show that these distinctions are artificial. They argue that poems, statues, bronzes, tombs, boundary stones, roadways, beacons, and buildings worked together as a suite of technologies for organizing and inhabiting space that was essentially political in nature.
LESLIE KURKE is the Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy. Her essay “Plato, Aesop, and the Beginnings of Mimetic Prose” appeared in Representations 94.
February 5 | 6:30-9:30 p.m. | UC Berkeley Alumni House, Great Hall
What’s it like to go to the movies with a professional historian? Find out at History Homecoming 2020, which features a panel of distinguished UC Berkeley history professors discussing two recently released films (Little Women and Harriet) and one popular contemporary Netflix series (The Crown). In addition to offering short presentations, panelists will field audience questions and continue the conversation over food and drink at a post-panel reception.
Peter Zinoman, Department Chair, Professor, History Department
In the enchanted world of Braj, the primary pilgrimage center in north India for worshippers of Krishna, each stone, river, and tree is considered sacred. In Climate Change and the Art of Devotion (Washington, 2019), Sugata Ray shows how this place-centered theology emerged in the wake of the Little Ice Age (ca. 1550-1850), an epoch marked by climatic catastrophes across the globe. In a major contribution to the emerging field of eco-art history, Ray compares early modern conceptions of the environment and current assumptions about nature and culture. Examining architecture, paintings, photography, and prints created in Braj alongside theological treatises and devotional poetry, he explores seepages between the natural ecosystem and cultural production.
Ray is joined by his colleague in the history of art at UCB and Representations editorial board member Whitney Davis. After a brief conversation about the book, they open the floor for discussion.
In discussing her book, Professor Jones-Rogers will engage with two UC Berkeley colleagues: Bryan Wagner*, Associate Professor in the Department of English, and Leslie Salzinger, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies.
Bridging women’s history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave-owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South’s slave market. Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave-owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave-owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America.
* Bryan Wagner’s essay Disarmed and Dangerous: The Strange Career of Bras-Coupé was published in Representations 92.
Three distinguished UC Berkeley scholars—Ian Duncan, Representations editorial board member and Florence Green Bixby Chair in the English Department, Mark Bevir, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for British Studies, and Akasemi Newsome, Associate Director of the Institute of European Studies—will discuss important questions about Brexit, when the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union. What’s next for Brexit? Will a deal be reached, and if not, what are the implications of another delay? How will Brexit transform political and economic life in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the world?