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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Visual Evidence (Ghosts - the Evidence of Spirits) Public Lecture series: 'Thinking Through Ghosts and Contaminations: The Cases of Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock'

10th May 2016, 18:15 to 19:15, Room ER 140, Elvet Riverside Building, Dr Michael Mack (English Studies, Durham University)

Due to popular demand, this is one of two new lectures to feature as part of the Ghosts - the Evidence of Spirits lecture series.

Does the ghostly slow things down? How is James’s and Hitchcock’s respective questioning of acceleration pertinent to a better understanding of our contemporary digital culture? This culture places a premium on actions, on doing. Acceleration has been ever increasing since the industrial revolution. Speed elevated doing: the sheer quantity of actions. James and Hitchcock in different yet related ways show how actions without the perceptive work of understanding can have deleterious consequences. Here perception is no longer removed from the world of action as has traditionally been the case in standard oppositions between the contemplative and the active life of politics. Anticipating the neuroscientific exploration of mirror neurons, the 1908 preface to The Portrait of a Lady makes a strong case for the discovery action within perception. Crucial here are Isabel Archer's quasi-ghostly visitation in chapter 42. In a similar way, Hitchcock’s films make us see how behind what we take to be innocent dwells a more sinister, ghostly world which we perceive when the speed of our perception slows down.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Map - Elvet Riverside is denoted as building No. 25

Contact for more information about this event.