Letter from the Director, Spring 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

posted under , , by Unit for Criticism
Dear Colleagues,

As my previous mails may have already suggested, there is much good news afoot for the Unit for Criticism! Last week we launched our new Criticism & Interpretive Theory fellowship program (deadline 3/2); and our events for this semester include a February 10 winter symposium, The Ends of History, organized with the Trowbridge Office on American Literature, Culture, & Society; as well as a faculty/grad seminar, co-organized with IPRH and faculty in Art History and Sociology (about to begin on Thursday, January 26). The seminar will meet 5 times over the course of the semester for conversations in anticipation of BEYOND UTOPIA? Art, Theory, & the Coming of “Spring,” an April 26-27 conference on aesthetics, politics, and new revolutionary movements, featuring keynote lectures from Bonnie Honig (Northwestern), Saba Mahmood (Berkeley), and Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths). On behalf of myself, Nicholson Associate Director J. B. Capino and the Unit’s research assistants, Mike Black & mc Anderson, I welcome you to take part in these events as well as to follow some of our doings on Kritik, the Unit’s weblog. I also want to mention that Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style & the 1960s, co-edited by Lilya Kaganovsky, Robert A. Rushing, and me, a project that began with a February 2010 winter symposium, is now in production with Duke University Press.

The Ends of History explores the interaction of formalism and historicism and includes papers by Srinivas Aravamudan (Duke), Stephen Best (Berkeley), Rachel Buurma (Swarthmore), Manu Goswami (NYU) , Heather Love (Penn), and Walter Benn Michaels (UIC) as well as a closing roundtable with Illinois colleagues in American Indian Studies, English, French, and History. The day before the symposium, on Thursday 2/9 at 3:30pm, Aravamudan will lead a seminar on “The Character of the University”: if you would like to register, there are still a few slots open (simply reply to this mail and we will add you on a first-come/first-serve basis). Later in the month we join the Program in Jewish Culture & Society to host a workshop with Eitan Bar Yosef (Ben Gurion) whose work-in-progress on Zionist fantasy and the modern urban landscape, is part of the semester-long BEYOND UTOPIA? series of events.

On Friday March 2, we partner with the Institute of Communications Research in welcoming Lawrence Grossberg (UNC)—one of the Unit for Criticism’s founding members—for a CAS/MillerComm lecture at the Spurlock Museum Auditorium. On Monday 3/12, Unit affiliate Maggie Flinn (French) speaks on “Banlieutopia” in 1930s cinema with a response from Tamara Chaplin (History). March closes with yet another collaboration: on 3/29 we join the Center for Middle Eastern & South Asian Studies in welcoming Joshua Landis (Oklahoma) for “Syria and the Arab Spring”—a second CAS/MillerComm-sponsored lecture at Spurlock. On April 2, Unit assistants Mike & mc host a grad student conference on “Technology in Theory & Practice”—paper proposals are welcome through 2/17.

In addition to the three keynote lectures, the BEYOND UTOPIA? conference includes papers from Mohammed Bamyeh (Pittsburgh), Romand Coles (Northern Arizona), Angelia Haro (Duke), Noha Radwan (Davis), Jeffrey Skoller (Berkeley), Phillip Wegner (Florida), and Rebecca Zorach (Chicago). The readings for the seminar, most of which are ready for downloading from the Unit’s website, include publications from all of these visiting scholars as well as selections from Fredric Jameson, Jacques Rancière, Mike Davis, Bernard Harcourt, and Slavoj Žižek. The seminar is open to all faculty and students and if you have not already “registered” I welcome you to do so by replying to this email. Along with my wonderful co-organizers, JB, Dianne Harris (IPRH/Architecture), Irene Small (Art History), Zsuzsa Gille (Sociology), and Markus Schulz (Sociology), I look forward to your joining us.

Please write to me, JB, Mike, or mc if you have any questions for us or any suggestions concerning the Unit’s present or future programming. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.



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