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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

CANCELLED - Languages of Light Lecture - The (M)orality of the Movies: Film and the Jewish Dietary Laws

30th April 2014, 17:00 to 18:00, Hogan Lovells Theatre, Durham Law School, Palatine Centre, Dr Nathan Abrams (University of Bangor)

Apologies but this talk has had to be cancelled.

Light works as a basic metaphor for knowledges of many kinds: historical, spiritual, intellectual. Yet the relationship between light and knowledge is often mediated through language, in ways that have complex political and epistemological implications. For example, knowledge of the past – and the negation of such knowledge through forgetting – is frequently cast as a problem of obscurity and illumination: of spotlight and shadow, of the ‘lightgleams’ that pierce, or fail to pierce, oblivion (Thomas Carlyle). Close attention to the interplay of knowledge, language and light opens onto the possibility that light itself may share certain qualities of language and vice versa, insofar as both are preconditions for the apprehension – or withholding – of intelligibility.

The Languages of Light research strand will examine:

a) The semiotics of light, and its meaning-making implications;

b) How knowledge discourses deploy and mediate dichotomies of light/darkness; the philosophical, political and methodological assumptions and effects of such dichotomies;

c) The extent to which perspectives from different languages, historical periods and cultural contexts highlight and help to elucidate (the terms themselves are indicative) key issues surrounding the meanings of light;

d) The significance of illumination practices – and metaphors of illumination – as these change over time and across cultures.

The Languages of Light strand will involve a series of public lectures and discussions addressing cultural, experiential and epistemological aspects of light. These include the ‘clearings’ or ‘lightenings’ (Heidegger’s Lichtungen) that allow intelligibility to emerge; the role of luminosity and scintillation in intersubjective relations (Levinas); the multiple implications of enlightenment (as historical Aufklärung, but also as spiritual Erleuchtung); the relationships between illumination and other cultural practices and institutions, from the culinary to the cinematic; the politics of sleep and wakefulness in capitalist postmodernity; and the changed epistemological implications of light after the utter darkness of the Shoah.

Contact for more information about this event.