Oct 22, ICGC Public Lecture, Left Leaning: Toward a Sinister Humanities

International Center for the Study of Global Change

ICGC Distinguished Public Lecture

Thursday, October 22nd


1210 Heller Hall

“Left Leaning: Toward a Sinister Humanities”

Presented by: Dr. John Mowitt, Leadership Chair in the Critical Humanities at the University of Leeds

ABSTRACT: The crisis of the Humanities is now understood to be endemic to the field.  Indeed, this state of affairs threatens to engulf the social thought experiment of the university itself.  Typically, humanists rise in defense of their enterprise by condemning the excesses of "instrumental reason,"  a defense that often has recourse to a concept of "the human" (if not "humanism") that many humanists have begun to trouble.  Drawing on Bernard Stiegler's concept of "technogenesis," this paper develops a response, both theoretical and political, to the crisis of the Humanities that derives the value of the field from its capacity to grasp a link between the ontology and the paleontology of the human, a link that, in pointing out the importance of the hand, underscores the special significance of "right-handedness" to the articulation of ontology and paleontology.  Examining Derrida's GLAS, and two piano concertos composed for Paul Wittgenstein after the loss of his right arm, the paper explores how a certain "sinisterism" might engage the crisis of the Humanities more offensively.
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