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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Conference: World Literatures and the New Totalitarianism

15th May 2017, 13:00, IMLR/Senate House, London

At the beginning of 2017 we are faced with the specter of a new totalitarianism. It emerges from the victories of Trump, the Brexit camp, and far right candidates in Scandinavia and Poland. It anticipates a strong performance by Marine le Pen. It comes in the wake of the Russian plutocracy’s concentration of power and the recrudescence of Neo-Nazi movements in Greece and the Balkans. The teleological narrative many have been telling—of progressive cosmopolitanism, tolerance, relatively open borders, of urbanity in every sense of the word—has been challenged by the return of antisemitism, racism, ethno-nationalism, and anti-intellectualism. This new totalitarianism is very much like its predecessor: global in scope yet nationalist in articulation, populist in orientation yet elitist in practice, local in its appeals yet power-consolidating in practice, and profoundly hostile to the cultural and social milieu that have nurtured art, literature, and critique since the end of War II. But the new totalitarianism is amplified by technologies once understood as democratizing: the internet, social media, and the proliferation of popular news sources. And it is bolstered by the rise of authoritarian neoliberalism.

It is important for literary and cultural critics, as well as well as our peers in political science or sociology, to begin to address these questions. For not only are new forms of media involved in the new totalitarianism, so are new—and old—structures of imaginative construction and response. Analyzing, understanding, and tracing them is one step towards beginning to reshape them in the service of returning to a political sphere of tolerance and possibility. This conference, World Literatures and the New Totalitarianism, will seek to address such questions. It takes place on 15-16 May, 2017. Attendance is free, but you must register using the following link: http://www.sas.ac.uk/events/event/8058

Program:

Monday 15 May, 2017: The Torrington Room, Senate House

13.00-13.30 Registration, coffee/tea, welcome

13.30-15.00 Panel 1: Resistance and Solidarity

  • Arthur Rose (Durham University), “South African Breathturns: Respiratory Aesthetics in Early Post-Apartheid Literature”
  • Anna Bernard (King’s College London), “‘That is: imperialismo’: International Solidarity and World Literature”

15.00-15.30 Coffee/tea

15.30-17.00 Panel 2: Jews and Modernity

  • Lisa Silverman (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), “New Totalitarianism and Age-Old Antisemitism: Lessons from Vienna”
  • Jonathan Freedman (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), “The End of the End of Jewish Modernity: Trump and the Revitalization of the Public Sphere”

17.00-18.00 Wine reception

Tuesday 16 May, 2017: The Court Room, Senate House

9.00-9.30 Coffee/tea

9.30-11.00 Panel 1: Genealogies of Racial Violence

  • Denise Grollmus (University of Washington), “Illiberal Readers and the Crisis of Free Speech: Blood Libel, Pizzagate, and the Rise of Ethnonationalism”
  • Nasia Anam (Williams College), “The Migrant as a Colonist: the Logic of Inversion in the Contemporary Dystopian Novel”

11.00-11.30 Break

11.30-13.00 Panel 2: Aesthetics and Totalitarianism

  • Max Silverman (University of Leeds), “Concentrationary art and the reading of everyday life: (in)human spaces in Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)”
  • Zoë Roth (Durham University), “Forms of Totalitarianism and the Totality of Form: Arendt, Aesthetics, and the State of Emergency”

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Panel 3: Theorizing Totalitarianism

  • Neil Levi (Drew University), “Narrating the Present: Fascism, Post-fascism, and the Contemporary Political Imaginary”
  • Benjamin Schreier (Penn State), “Thinking About Identity in the Age of Trump”

15.30-16.00 Coffee/tea

16.00-17.30 Panel 4: Alternative Pasts and Possible Futures

  • Sasha Senderovich (University of Colorado, Boulder), “From Moscow-2042 to New York-2017: Soviet Imagination and American Dystopias”
  • Bryan Cheyette (University of Reading), “The Plot Against Fiction: Philip Roth or Donald Trump”

This event is generously supported by the Institute of Modern Languages Research; the School of Advanced Study, University of London; and the AHRC/OWRI.

Program:

Monday 15 May, 2017: The Torrington Room, Senate House

13.00-13.30 Registration, coffee/tea, welcome

13.30-15.00 Panel 1: Resistance and Solidarity

  • Arthur Rose (Durham University), “South African Breathturns: Respiratory Aesthetics in Early Post-Apartheid Literature”
  • Anna Bernard (King’s College London), “‘That is: imperialismo’: International Solidarity and World Literature”

15.00-15.30 Coffee/tea

15.30-17.00 Panel 2: Jews and Modernity

  • Lisa Silverman (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), “New Totalitarianism and Age-Old Antisemitism: Lessons from Vienna”
  • Jonathan Freedman (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), “The End of the End of Jewish Modernity: Trump and the Revitalization of the Public Sphere”

17.00-18.00 Wine reception

Tuesday 16 May, 2017: The Court Room, Senate House

9.00-9.30 Coffee/tea

9.30-11.00 Panel 1: Genealogies of Racial Violence

  • Denise Grollmus (University of Washington), “Illiberal Readers and the Crisis of Free Speech: Blood Libel, Pizzagate, and the Rise of Ethnonationalism”
  • Nasia Anam (Williams College), “The Migrant as a Colonist: the Logic of Inversion in the Contemporary Dystopian Novel”

11.00-11.30 Break

11.30-13.00 Panel 2: Aesthetics and Totalitarianism

  • Max Silverman (University of Leeds), “Concentrationary art and the reading of everyday life: (in)human spaces in Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)”
  • Zoë Roth (Durham University), “Forms of Totalitarianism and the Totality of Form: Arendt, Aesthetics, and the State of Emergency”

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Panel 3: Theorizing Totalitarianism

  • Neil Levi (Drew University), “Narrating the Present: Fascism, Post-fascism, and the Contemporary Political Imaginary”
  • Benjamin Schreier (Penn State), “Thinking About Identity in the Age of Trump”

15.30-16.00 Coffee/tea

16.00-17.30 Panel 4: Alternative Pasts and Possible Futures

  • Sasha Senderovich (University of Colorado, Boulder), “From Moscow-2042 to New York-2017: Soviet Imagination and American Dystopias”
  • Bryan Cheyette (University of Reading), “The Plot Against Fiction: Philip Roth or Donald Trump”

This event is generously supported by the Institute of Modern Languages Research; the School of Advanced Study, University of London; and the AHRC/OWRI.

Contact zoe.roth@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.