An Ongoing Revolution

An Ongoing Revolution

Reflections on Gendered Struggles and Feminist Scholarship in the Humanities
Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021 4:00 pm

On October 3, 2020, UC Berkeley celebrated the 150th anniversary of admitting women as undergraduate students. The 150 Years of Women at Berkeley History Project has responded to Chancellor Carol Christ’s call to “convert this anniversary into a lasting archive” by documenting the struggles and achievements of students, faculty, and staff since 1872 — from the earliest days of “co-education,” to the “gender revolution” of the sixties and seventies, and beyond.

To join in the commemoration, the Townsend Center presents An Ongoing Revolution: Reflections on Gendered Struggles and Feminist Scholarship in the Humanities. Faculty members representing Comparative Literature, English, East Asian Languages & Cultures, History of Art, Music, and Spanish & Portuguese gather for a discussion of the role and experience of women at Berkeley, asking such questions as, how have departmental and disciplinary cultures changed over the years? How have issues of gender and feminism been brought to bear on scholarship and teaching? What has been the changing relationship between political battles in the streets and research in the academy? Whose stories have we lost track of as institutional life continues to transform? What fights are still to come?

Representations board member Catherine Gallagher (English) will moderate, joined by former board member Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby (History of Art), Francine Masiello (Comparative Literature and Spanish & Portuguese), current board member Mary Ann Smart (Music), and Sophie Volpp (Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages & Cultures).
About the Speakers:

Catherine Gallagher is Ida May and William J. Eggers Professor Emerita in the Department of English, and co-chair of the 150 Years of Women at Berkeley History Project. A long-standing board member of Representations, she is the author of a number of articles, including “The Politics of Culture and the Debate over Representation” (Representations 5), “George Eliot: Immanent Victorian” (Representations 90), and “The Formalism of Military History” (Representations 104).

Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Arts and Humanities and winner of the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing. A former board member of Representations, her essays “Rumor, Contagion, and Colonization in Gros’s Plague-Stricken of Jaffa (1804)” (Representations 51),Patina, Painting, and Portentous Somethings” (Representations 78), and “Negative-Positive Truths” (Representations 113) have appeared in the journal.

Francine Masiello is Sidney and Margaret Ancker Professor Emerita in the Departments of Comparative Literature and Spanish & Portuguese.

Mary Ann Smart is Gladyce Arata Terrill Professor of Music. A current board member of Representations, she is the co-editer the special forum on “Quirk Historicism” in Representations 132 and is the author of “The Queen and the Flirt” in Representations 104.

Sophie Volpp, professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures and Comparative Literature, specializes in Chinese literature of the 16th through 19th centuries.

Technologies of the Novel

Nicholas Paige discusses his new book

Technologies of the Novel: Quantitative Data and the Evolution of Literary Systems

In a Berkeley Book Chat presented by UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities,  – 

Online: Click Here to Watch the Livestream. No registration required.

In a study based on the systematic sampling of nearly 2,000 French and English novels written between 1601 and 1830, UC Berkeley professor of French Nicholas Paige asks how, precisely, the novel evolved. Instead of simply “rising” (as scholars have traditionally described its appearance as a genre), the novel is, in Paige’s view, a system in constant flux, made up of artifacts — formally distinct novel types — that themselves rise, only to inevitably fall.

Paige argues that these artifacts are technologies, each with traceable origins, each needing time for adoption and also for abandonment. Like technological waves in more physical domains, the rises and falls of novelistic technologies don’t happen automatically: writers invent and adopt literary artifacts for many diverse reasons. Looking not at individual works but at the novel as a patterned system, Technologies of the Novel (Cambridge, 2020) presents a new way of understanding the history and evolution of art forms.

Nicholas Paige works on17th- and 18th-century French literature and culturehistory and theory of the novelquantitative literary history and digital humanitiesaesthetics and image theory, and cinema (French New Wave). His essay “Bardot and Godard in 1963 (Historicizing the Postmodern Image)” appeared in Representations 88.

Paige is joined by UC Berkeley professor of English Dorothy Hale. After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.

 

Proust, Photography, and the Time of Life

Proust, Photography, and the Time of Life

Suzanne Guerlac
BERKELEY BOOK CHATS
 – 

Click Here to Watch the Livestream.

 

Through an engagement with the philosophies of Marcel Proust’s contemporaries Félix Ravaisson, Henri Bergson, and Georg Simmel, author Suzanne Guerlac (French) presents an original reading of Proust’s magnum opus, Remembrance of Things Past (A la recherche du temps perdu). Challenging traditional interpretations, Guerlac argues in Proust, Photography, and the Time of Life (Bloomsbury, 2020) that Proust’s novel is not a melancholic text, but one that records the dynamic time of change and the complex vitality of the real.

Situating Proust’s novel within a modernism of money, and broadening her analysis through the exploration of visual technologies and cultural developments of the period — including commercial photography, photojournalism, and pornography — Guerlac reveals that Proust’s true subject is the adventure of living in time, on both the individual and the social level, at a concrete historical moment.

Guerlac is joined by Representations board member Damon Young (French and Film & Media). After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.

Click here to watch the livestream.

Suzanne Guerlac is the author of “Humanities 2.0: E-Learning in the Digital World” (Representations 116, Fall 2011) and “The Useless Image: Bataille, Bergson, Magritte” (Representations 97, Winter 2007) and a contributor to “Reflections on Durational Art” (Represenations 136, Fall 2016) for the Representations Special Issue Time Zones: Durational Art and Its Contexts.

For even more from Representations on Proust and photography, see Dora Zhang’s article “A Lens for an Eye: Proust and Photography” (Representations 118, Spring 2012).

Spirit & Sense

Spirit

(Re)making Sense: The Humanities and Pandemic Culture
Wednesday, Mar 10, 2021 4:00 pm

Click Here to Watch the Livestream.

Every previous major disaster in human history, from the Black Plague to the Great Depression, has elicited a reimagination of the world, a reinvention of collective life through culture. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. The arts and humanities—two areas of inquiry that focus on value and meaning—provide crucial resources for reconceptualizing our lives together during, and after, our current crisis.

The series (Re)making Sense: The Humanities and Pandemic Culture examines the utility of the arts and humanities for helping us navigate the ethical challenges and practical reinventions that lie before us. Top scholars, writers, and artists at UC Berkeley discuss how their disciplines, and the skills and abilities fostered by their fields, can help in our efforts to reimagine and rebuild.

The pandemic has underscored the need to attend to the life of the spirit. In the fifth event of this series, we explore the relationship between spirit and art. What is the duty of the poet or artist toward the world of spirit? How do poetry and prayer intertwine? What is the spiritual responsibility of the critic or scholar? How can we mobilize the many intersections between the worlds of art and spirit as we move forward? What can spiritual practices teach the artist or critic?

Professor of Music and Representations board member Nicholas Mathew studies the relationship between music and politics, including the ways in which music produces social attachments and collective identity. He is the author of Political Beethoven and has completed a new book project on the deep history of music and markets in the long eighteenth century.

Laura Pérez is professor of ethnic studies and chair of the Latinx Research Center. Her recent book, Eros Ideologies: Writings on Art, Spirituality, and the Decolonial, examines art as a laboratory for creating, imagining, and experiencing new forms of decolonial thought.

John Shoptaw teaches poetry in the Department of English. His 2015 poetry collection, Times Beach, a meditation on the cultural and environmental history of the Mississippi watershed, won the Notre Dame Review Book Prize and the Northern California Book Award in Poetry.

Click here to watch the livestreamNo registration required.

The most recent issue of Representations, a special issue on Practices of Devotion, takes up a question that dovetails with those underlying these talk. For thinking more about the intertwining of poetry and prayer, see Robert Glenn Davis’s “Prayer and the Art of Literature in Anselm of Canterbury’s Proslogion.

The Art of Translation

Katrina Dodson on the Art of Translation
Writing and Thinking in Two Languages
ART OF WRITING
Tuesday, Mar 9, 2021 4:00 pm

Katrina Dodson Portrait

Katrina Dodson will be in conversation with Representations author Kathryn Crim on the art of translation.

“To think and write beyond our own experience is a necessary transgression if we are to expand our understanding of the world,” Katrina Dodson writes of her approach to translating the work of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. “To translate the stories, I had to perform a double incarnation, to inhabit Clarice inhabiting her various characters.”

For her translation from the Portuguese of Lispector’s Complete Stories, Dodson won the 2016 PEN Translation Prize, the American Translators Association Lewis Galantière Prize, and a Northern California Book Award.

Translating Lispector became a quasi-religious endeavor for Dodson, who pinned a photograph of the author above her desk to help her channel her subject. “I did my best to divine where Clarice’s significant distortions of language lay and how I might convey them faithfully, to use a fraught term for translators,” Dodson writes in an essay in The Believer. “Yet we know there is no such thing as a perfect translation—the pieces that make up different languages never correspond exactly. In the end, it’s someone’s grubby fingerprints all over the Word of another, no matter how much the translator wants to let the spirit take over and speak through her. Translation is interpretation.”

Dodson holds a PhD in comparative literature from UC Berkeley and teaches translation at Columbia University. She is currently adapting her Lispector translation journal into a book, and translating the 1928 Brazilian modernist classic Macunaíma: The Hero with No Character by Mário de Andrade.

She talks with Kathryn Crim, who recently completed her PhD in comparative literature at UC Berkeley with a dissertation on “Fit and Counterfeit: The Emergence of a Documentary Aesthetic.”

Click here to watch the livestream.

For more on translation from Representations, see Haun Saussy’s “Death and Translation” from Issue 94, Spring 2006.

Attention!

Attention

Thursday, Feb 4, 2021 4:00 pm PST
An online conversation 

From the series: (Re)making Sense: The Humanities and Pandemic Culture sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley

Click to watch the livestreamNo registration required.

Every previous major disaster in human history, from the Black Plague to the Great Depression, has elicited a reimagination of the world, a reinvention of collective life through culture. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. The arts and humanities—two areas of inquiry that focus on value and meaning—provide crucial resources for reconceptualizing our lives together during, and after, our current crisis.

In this online discussion, three UC Berkeley professors consider an aspect of university culture and daily life that has changed significantly in the COVID era: our sense of attention. We pay attention differently than we used to. This shift is due both to the technologies with which we must work, and the noise of anxiety and suffering that rumbles in the background as we read, write, teach, and learn. They discuss the forms of our attention, both now and in the past. How do the humanities and arts shape and cultivate attention?  How can they help us reshape our attentive selves going forward?

Hannah Ginsborg is the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy at UCB. Her scholarship encompasses the work of Immanuel Kant, the history of philosophy, and contemporary philosophy, with a focus on the theory of meaning and the philosophy of mind.

Ken Goldberg is the William S. Floyd Jr. Distinguished Chair in Engineering at UCB. He is an inventor working at the intersection of art, robotics, and new media, whose inventions have been awarded nine US patents. He is cofounder of the Berkeley Center for New Media.

Berkeley Associate Professor of English and Representations editorial board member David Marno studies the relationship between literature and religion, with a focus on the act of prayer. His book Death Be Not Proud: The Art of Holy Attention reads John Donne’s Holy Sonnets as a site where devotional, literary, and philosophical investments in attentiveness become visible.

 

On Memory and Memorials

Memory and Memorials in a Contested Age

(Re)making Sense: The Humanities and Pandemic Culture

Wednesday, December 2 | 5pm PST | Online

UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities presents an event featuring Representations board members Stephen Best and Debarati Sanyal.

Recent conflicts over the politics of historical monuments suggest that we are living through a crisis of shared memory, and they remind us how complicated the processes of remembering and memorializing can be.

At a time when conversation across political and racial lines seems both fragile and necessary, it is crucial that we begin to reimagine a useable past. The humanities and arts, as disciplines deeply invested in the practices of memory, can help begin this reconsideration.

This conversation will ask questions about how we remember, now. How does art shape our memory and our sense of history? What types of historical representation matter in the current moment? How are we to approach the past during the pandemic, when the very practices of everyday life have been put on hold?

Stephen Best (UC Berkeley English) is a scholar of American and African-American literature and culture. His books include None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life, which probes preoccupations with establishing the authority of the slave past in black life.

Debarati Sanyal (UC Berkeley French) is a scholar of modern French and Francophone literature. Her book Memory and Complicity: Migrations of Holocaust Memory examines the transnational deployment of complicity in the aftermath of the Shoah.

Andrew Shanken (UC Berkeley Architecture) is an architectural and urban historian whose book 194X examines how architects and planners on the American home front anticipated the world after the Second World War. He is currently writing a cultural geography of memorials.

This event is part of the series (Re)making Sense: The Humanities and Pandemic Culture, which examines the utility of the arts and humanities for helping us navigate the ethical challenges and practical reinventions that lie before us.

Click here to watch the livestream.

For more on memory and memorialization, see the following special issues of Representations from the archives:

Speaking of Law and Literature

Law and Literature: A Virtual Symposium

  

Join UC Berkeley’s English Department, School of Law, Center for the Study of Law and Society, Division of Arts and Humanities, Rhetoric Department, Jurisprudence Social Policy Program, and Townsend Center for the Humanities for a virtual symposium on the intersections between law and literature.

Register here to receive a personalized Zoom link to join the webinar.

Participants include Representations authors Marianne Constable and Julie Stone Peters and Representations editorial board member Samera Esmeir.

SCHEDULE:

9:30 – 11:00 am

Peter Goodrich (Yeshiva)
Bernadette Meyler (Stanford)
Julie Stone Peters (Columbia)
Marco Wan (Hong Kong)
Chair: Marianne Constable (UC Berkeley)

11:15 am – 12:45 pm

Elizabeth S. Anker (Cornell)
Poulomi Saha (UC Berkeley)
Jeanne-Marie Jackson (Johns Hopkins)
Mona Oraby (Amherst)
Chair: Leti Volpp (UC Berkeley)

1:45 pm – 3:15 pm

Susanna Blumenthal (Minnesota)
Bradin Cormack (Princeton)
Simon Stern (Toronto)
Rebecca Tushnet (Harvard)
Chair: Christopher Tomlins (UC Berkeley)

3:30 – 5:00 pm

Marlene Daut (Virginia)
Desmond Jagmohan (UC Berkeley)
Beth Piatote (UC Berkeley)
Eric Slauter (Chicago)
Chair: Samera Esmeir (UC Berkeley)

 

Transimperial Colloquium

Sat Oct 24, 2020, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Pacific Time

Online via  Zoom. Registration Required. All are welcome!
Contact John James johnjames@berkeley.edu for registration and Zoom information.

 

A roundtable of international scholars considers the work of Sukanya Banerjee on the occasion of her recent addition to the UC Berkeley English Department. Professor Banerjee’s 2018 Victorian Literature and Culture essay “Transimperial” will serve as the touchstone for a discussion ranging across the various topics and fields addressed in her recent work.

Pdf of “Transimperial” will be provided. Attendees are invited to submit questions beforehand or to use the Chat/Q&A function during the colloquium.

Moderator: John James (UC Berkeley)
Speakers: Alicia Mireles Christoff (Amherst College)
Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley)
Elaine Freedgood (New York University)
Isabel Hofmeyr (University of the Witwatersrand)
Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Elizabeth Carolyn Miller (UC Davis)
Nasser Mufti (University of Illinois, Chicago)
James Vernon (UC Berkeley)

Victoria Kahn Talks about The Trouble with Literature

The Trouble with Literature

Victoria Kahn
BERKELEY BOOK CHATS
 – 

Click here to watch the livestream.

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).

Click here to watch the livestream.