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Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture

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Lectures and seminars 2019-20

Seminar series 2019-2020

Autumn 2019

24 October 2019
Bonisha Bhattacharyya, University of Kent
‘Friendship at the court: the case of European travellers visiting 17th century Mughal India’

31 October 2019
Laura Lucia Rossi, University of Manchester
‘Acquaintance with strangers: The interaction between reader and fictional characters in the act of reading’

12 November 2019
Anders Kristian Strand, University of Bergen
‘Tradition and River Poetry in Michael Drayton, Friedrich Hölderlin, and William Carlos Williams’

21 November 2019
Ian Cooper, University of Kent
”And the god has, as they say, withdrawn’: Seamus Heaney and Martin Heidegger’

28 November 2019
Book Launch: The Years of Alienation in Italy.
Ed by Alessandra Diazzi (University of Manchester) and Alvise Sforza Tarabochia (University of Kent).

Spring 2020

Thursday 23 January, 17.00-18.30
Ottmar Ette, University of Potsdam
What’s love got to do with it? Roland Barthes or the importance of friendship.

Abstract: From a general point of view, the personality as well as the work of Roland Barthes seem to be related and linked much more with love than with friendship. The figures of love in his „Fragments d‘un discours amoureux“ or even „La Chambre claire“ or his „Journal de deuil“, declaring a son‘s love towards his mother, focus more on love and its (im)possible discourses. But there is a different view of the French writer, semiologist and philosopher if we look at his writings from the perspective of friendship. Because friendship is a kind of blind spot in Barthes Studies, inviting us to change perspectives and ideas about the great feelings expressed in Roland Barthes‘ texts. In which sense is friendship more than what Barthes called „la bêtise amoureuse“?

Thursday 30 January, 17.00-18.30
Omid Tofighian, the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney
Displacement and Exile/Narrative and Knowing

Abstract: Literature, films, artworks and journalism are used to offer unique insight into the lived-experience and lived-endurance of people subject to racialised government policies, intersectional discrimination and systemic exclusion. They also introduce unique philosophical standpoints and act as critical interlocutors in debates pertaining to border politics. This paper centres the experiences and knowledge produced under conditions of displacement and exile and addresses the complexity of these experiences when they intersect with imprisonment in state-run refugee detention centres – particularly the phenomenon of indefinite detention. The examples introduced in this talk involve narratives and critical perspectives often discussed, analysed and criticised but rarely prioritised in public discourse and silenced by prominent media platforms. Central to my argument is the 2018 book No Friend but the Mountains: Writings From Manus Prison by the Kurdish Iranian writer and journalist Behrouz Boochani. The author has been held in indefinite detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea since 2013 as part of the Australian government’s policies on refugees. Boochani’s work presents an extraordinary aesthetic, philosophical and political challenge to think through and interrogate the mechanics of detention within a framework of colonial dispossession and the neo-colonial strategies that maintain and reinforce border violence.

Thursday 13 February, 13.00-14.30
Patricia Novillo-Corvalán, University of Kent
Borges, Joyce, and the Little Magazines: Hiberno-Argentine Radical Affiliations

Abstract: How can Borges’s contribution to the thriving periodical culture of early twentieth-century Buenos Aires enable us to gain a geopolitical understanding of the way this transnational aesthetic movement shaped the Argentine cultural scene? This paper situates Borges’s aesthetic practices within the context of Argentina’s centenary of independence from Spanish rule (May 1910) and the cultural and ideological debates this national imaginary aroused at a time the Argentine Republic was wrestling with the pressures of modernity, large-scale European immigration, and British neocolonial commercial involvement. Concomitantly, issues of identity, nationhood, and a River Plate-inflected national idiom dominated the cultural and political agenda, with young, ideologically ‘committed’ writers such as Borges playing a pivotal role in these momentous intellectual debates. I argue that Borges’s contributions to avant-gardist and left-wing anarchist magazines such as Proa and Cuasimodo in the early 1920s combined a dialectical gesture that veered between an emergent nationalistic ‘Left’ and a cosmopolitan avant-gardist literary vision, bringing to the fore the underlying tensions between tradition and modernist innovation. I show that these aesthetic practices are evident in his 1925 translation of the last page of James Joyce’s Ulysses published in Proa, which rendered Molly Bloom’s unpunctuated soliloquy into River Plate Spanish, a textual practice that utilised the idiosyncratic voseo (instead of the peninsular tuteo) and Argentine localisms. In so doing, Borges foregrounded Joyce’s subversive status as an Irish writer, imagining Ireland and Argentina as geocultural spaces defined by a form of marginality that greatly bolsters, rather than hinders, literary innovation. For Borges, a Joycean paradigm enabled a juxtaposition between the historical realities and ‘peripheral modernities’—in Beatriz Sarlo’s phrase—of (post) colonial Ireland and (neo) colonial Argentina to delineate productive, albeit fraught, areas of aesthetic and political convergence.

Wednesday, 18 March, 17.00-18.30 

A joint book launch as part of the Centre for Modern European Literature Research Seminar Series:

Thomas Baldwin, Roland Barthes: The Proust Variations. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 2019.

Ian Cooper, Poetry and the Question of Modernity: From Heidegger to the Present. New York: Routledge 2020.

Ian Cooper (ed.), Literature and Religion in the German-Speaking World: From 1200 to the Present Day. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2019.

Alessandra Diazzi and Alvise Sforza Tarabochia (eds.), The Years of Alienation in Italy. Factory and Asylum Between the Economic Miracle and the Years of Lead. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2019.

Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, Los inicios de la república peruana. Viendo más allá de la cueva de bandoleros. Lima: PUCP – Fondo Editorial 2019

Axel Stähler, Zionism, the German Empire, and Africa: Jewish Metamorphoses and the Colors of Difference. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter 2018.

Thursday 26 March, 17.00-18.30 *postponed*
Jochen Strobel, University of Marburg
Friendship as a narcissistic projection? Adrian Leverkuehn and Serenus Zeitblom in Thomas Mann’s Novel ‘Doctor Faustus’