Don Juan, Faust and Western Modernity

Fri, 2017-05-26 15:00
Roberto Gigliucci (La Sapienza, Rome) will be presenting the Graduate Research Seminar Series, School of Languages and Literatures, with a talk entitled, "Don Juan, Faust and Western Modernity".  Abstract: This seminar concerns the two myths of Don Giovanni and Faust as paradigms of western modernity. Both the characters are joined by the mood of despair. But in the case of Don Giovanni the refusal of every kind of metaphysics is neat and lucid, and the involvement in the physical reality – as the only possible one – is enthusiastic and full of vitality. On the other hand, for Faustus by Marlowe the despair is a conscience of an exclusion from the beatitude and salvation (gorgeously symbolized by the river of Christ’s blood that inundates the heaven), and this desperation is evident just in the first monologue of the play. Any case, the two characters are masks of modernity, perceived as spirit of doubt, desire of sensual delight and of knowledge, but with an insatiable tension towards something of sparkling and ephemeral. The representation of punishment is an exquisitely theatrical element, a sort of a grand and stupefying stage machinery, which yet doesn’t elude definitely the central issue: the situation of modern man in his new solitude, far from heaven, far from the transcendent, far from God, looking at a sky where the stars are only celestial bodies in a world mathematically organized. So, the history of Don Giovanni coincides with the history of modernity, from the first decades of XVIIth century, with the remarkable contribution of Italy, to the crucial refoundation of the myth by Molière, to the dramas and melodramas of the XVIIIth Century and finally to the supreme investigation on Don Giovanni’ ambiguity in the opera by Mozart. Afterwards we observe a kind of fragmentation of the character of Don Giovanni, up to the demystifying plays and novels of the late modernity. The case of Faust is different: with the impressive re-elaborate version of the story in the colossal work by Goethe we find a reconstructed harmony, a labyrinth that ends with the deliverance and a mystic triumph. It is a compromise which shall be not so lucky in the future sensibility, and the shadow of old Faustus shall reappear anxiously. Bio: Roberto Gigliucci (M.A., Ph.D) studied Italian at “Sapienza” University of Rome, where has working as Assistant Professor since 2005 and now as Associate Professor of Italian Literature. His research topics are in the field of: Medieval and early-modern Italian literature; Renaissance and Baroque literature, music and drama; Twentieth-century Italian prose, poetry and criticism. His research interests include: The analysis of literary themes, amongst which “death”; The rhetoric of love; The concept of “Melancholy” and its development through the centuries; The icons of Baroque lyric poetry related to the birth of Modernity; Paradox, oxymoron, antithesis, and evidentia (hypotyposis) in ancient and modern literature.

Dante’s starlings and the object of poetry

Mon, 2017-05-29 17:30
Peter R. Anderson and Mara Boccaccio will present "Dante's starlings and the object of poetry" in celebration of Dante Alighieri day

The “Dark Side”: Popular Politics and the Question of Democratic Violence

Wed, 2017-06-07 13:00
Dr Ruchi Chaturvedi, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, will present the Department of Religious Studies seminar with a talk entitled, "The “Dark Side”: Popular Politics and the Question of Democratic Violence".   Ruchi Chaturvedi received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University and an M. Phil in Sociology from University of Delhi. She has taught at the City University of New York and Makerere Institute of Social Research. Ruchi’s research focuses on questions of political violence, popular politics and its contentious relationship with the ideology and institutions of liberal democracy. Her writings have revolved around a long-running violent conflict between local level political workers of the Marxist Left and Hindu Right in Kerala, South India.  This presentation revolves around community protests and violent contests between members of various political groups in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. Central to it is what Partha Chatterjee as well as Karl von Holdt, Langa et al. describe as the “dark side” of political society and insurgent citizenship: namely, the often-times collective and sometimes individualized violence that has characterized popular and party politics in various postcolonial states. I read this violence through critiques of liberal equality and democracy articulated especially in the Nigerian political theorist Claude Ake’s work, and in the historian Ajay Skaria’s analysis of Gandhi’s writings. Seen through these lenses, the violent dark side of political society and insurgent citizenship comes into view as an aspect of a shared postcolonial democratic inheritance. I describe the relationship between this modern democratic inheritance, the modes of enacting and organizing power that have emerged in its wake, and collective and inter-party violence. I conclude with the problem of recasting this democratic bequest that haunts Ake’s analysis as much as it does Gandhi’s.

Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East

Wed, 2017-05-24 18:00
Adam Hanieh, from the school of African Studies, University of London, will present a talk for the Centre for Contemporary Islam (CCI) in collaboration with the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC), entitled, "Lineages of Revolt:  Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East". In his book, Adam explores neoliberal policies, dynamics of class and state formation, imperialism and the nature of regional accumulation, the significance of Palestine and the Gulf Arab states, and the ramifications of the global economic crisis. By mapping the complex and contested nature of capitalism in the Middle East, the book demonstrates that a full understanding of the uprisings needs to go beyond a simple focus on “dictators and democracy.” Adam Hanieh is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at the school of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Prior to joining SOAS, Adam taught at Zayed University, United Arab Emirates. From 1997-2003, he worked in the NGO and public sectors in Ramallah, Palestine, where he completed an MA in Regional Studies at Al Quds University. He holds a PhD in Political Science from York University, Canada (2009). Adam is an editorial board member of the journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory, a founding member of the SOAS Centre for Palestine Studies, and a member of the committee of Management for the Council for British Research in the Levant. His most recent book is Capitalism and class in the Gulf Arab States 

New book from APC challenges colonial archival categories in productive ways

Thu, 2017-05-18 14:44 -- 01401867

The Archive and Pubic Culture Research Initiative's (APC) two-volume book, Tribing and Untribing the Archive:  Identity and the Material Record in Southern KwaZulu Natal in the Late Independent and Colonial Periods (2016), edited by Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer, challenges the pernicious combination of "tribe" and "tradition" that tethers modern South Africans to ideas about the region's remote past as primitive, timeless and unchanging. 

The prospects of and constraints to peace journalism in Africa: Reflections on Zimbabwe and South Africa”.

Tue, 2017-05-23 13:00
Wallace Chuma will  The prospects of and constraints to peace journalism in Africa: Reflections on Zimbabwe and South Africa”.  

Strike a Rock film to premier at prestigious film festivals

Tue, 2017-05-16 14:49 -- 01401867

Strike a Rock, the feature length film made by Humanities alumnus Aliki Saragas, has been selected to premier at two prestigious festivals:  it will be the opening night film at Encounters International Documentary Film Festival locally and for its international premier it will screen at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival.