Saturday, January 22, 2011

Audiofiles Now Available: Speculative Medievalisms @ King's College London


After a whirlwind of 3-1/2 days in London, which included a side-trip to Cambridge, and then returning to Saint Louis to jump into teaching, I have finally posted, at the Internet Archive, the audiofiles of the talks and responses delivered at Speculative Medievalisms: A Laboratory-Atelier, held at The Anatomy Museum at King's College London two Fridays ago, Jan. 14th. The event represented a really interesting convergence (or collision) between medievalists (Kathleen Biddick, myself, Anna Klosowska, and Nicola Masciandaro) and scholars working in later periods in religious studies (Anthony Paul Smith, Univ. of Nottingham), economics and international relations (Nick Srnicek, London School of Economics), media and technology studies (Eugene Thacker, The New School), cultural theory and the audio unconscious (Scott Wilson, Kingston Univ.), philosophy of nature (Ben Woodard, European Graduate School), queer theory and continental philosophy (Michael O'Rourke), and Marxist theory and literature (Evan Calder Williams, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz). Many of the participants share an interest in speculative realism and object-oriented ontology, as well as in dark vitalism, nihilisms of various sorts, dark ecology, black metal theory, angelology, and mysticisms (medieval and modern), but it can not be said that all of the speakers share any one of these interests, and that made for a real encounter with new modes of thought for all of us.

Ultimately, through the launching of the Speculative Medievalisms project, we are hoping to open up new avenues for fruitful dialogue and creative, mutual cross-contamination between medieval ideas of speculatio, the cultural-historical position of the medieval as site of humanistic speculation, and the speculative realists’ “opening up” of “weird worlds” heretofore believed impenetrable by philosophy—as Graham Harman has written, “the specific psychic reality of earthworms, dust, armies, chalk, and stone,” to give just one example. We are also seeking, from divergent topical trajectories, to restore and enliven the epistemic potentiality and empirical poiesis of thinking itself. Who knows where this will all lead, but here, for now, are the opening lines:

Kathleen Biddick (Temple Univ.), "Toy Stories: Vita Nuda Then and Now?" (Joint Response: Eileen Joy and Anna Kloswoska)

Eugene Thacker (The New School), "Divine Darkness" (Response: Nicola Masciandaro)

Anthony Paul Smith (Univ. of Nottingham), "The Speculative Angel" (Response: Ben Woodard)

Nick Srnicek (London School of Economics), "Abstraction and Value: The Medieval Origins of Financial Quantification" (Two Responses: Michael O'Rourke and Evan Calder Williams)

Scott Wilson (Kingston Univ.), "Neroplatonism" [Scott has also graciously shared the full text of his talk on his weblog "Amusia" HERE.]

We have already set the date for a "mirror" event, "Speculative Medievalisms 2," to be held at the Segal Theater, CUNY Graduate Center on Friday, September 16th. Speakers already committed to this event include our very own Jeffrey, as well as Graham Harman, Kellie Robertson, and Julian Yates. Plans are also underway to publish the proceedings of both events as the first book in a soon-to-be-announced BABEL book series.

And for those of you who have been following the various "speculative" movements afoot in the humanities at present, let me also direct your attention to a working/reading group on "Speculative Aesthetics," convened by Katherine Hayles and Priscilla Wald at Duke University for the 2010-2011 year. They have graciously posted their schedule and readings online, which are provided in downloadable form HERE [you will want to return often, since they add download links as they go along].

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