Representations’s Andrew Jones receives Guggenheim

Congratulations to Representations editorial board member Andrew F. Jones.

 

Jones, professor and Louis B. Agassiz Chair in Chinese in the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at UC Berkeley, has been awarded a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship. Jones was selected as one of 175 scholars, scientists, and artists across the United States and Canada who have shown “prior achievement and exceptional promise” in their work.

 

Andrew-Jones-250x250_2015

 

At Berkeley, Jones teaches modern Chinese literature and media culture. His Like a Knife: Ideology and Genre in Contemporary Chinese Popular Music (Cornell East Asia Series, 1992) was the first book-length study of the emergence of Chinese rock music in the years before and after the Tiananmen movement of 1989. Yellow Music: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age (Duke University Press, 2001) explored the cultural history of modern Chinese music, tracing its emergence from out of the complex musical and media topography of colonial Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. With the support of the Guggenheim foundation, he will complete a book entitled Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Transistor Era, which will listen to the sonic history of the long global 1960s from the perspective of a place that is usually dismissed as marginal to the musical revolutions of those years. The book will attempt to write China back into the narrative of how we hear the explosion of new popular musics for which these years are famous; and by the same token, reinsert the “global” into our sometimes hermetic sense of Chinese cultural history in those years.

The Beast in the Blood

The Beast Within: Animals in the First Xenotransfusion Experiments in France, ca. 1667-68
by Peter Sahlins

The essay begins:

The first practical experiments in transfusing animal blood into humans for therapeutic purposes—to cure sickness, especially madness, and to prolong life—took place in Paris in 1667 and 1668, and they worked. Or not. From the beginning, the experiments were shrouded in the competing claims of a highly public controversy in which consensus and truth, alongside the experimental dogs, lambs, and calves, were the first victims. “There was never anything that divided opinion as much as we presently witness with the transfusions,” wrote the Parisian lawyer at Parlement Louis de Basril, late in what became known as the “Transfusion Affair,” in February 1668. “It is a topic of the salons, an amusement at the court, the subject of philosophical dissertations; and doctors talk incessantly about it in all their consultations.” At the center of the controversy was the Montpellier physician and “most able Cartesian philosopher,” Jean Denis (1635–1704), recently established in Paris. With the experienced surgeon Paul Emmerez (?–1690), Denis performed transfusions, using primitive instrumentation, of small amounts of blood from the carotid arteries of calves, lambs, and kid goats into the veins of five ailing human patients between June 1667 and January 1668. Two died, but three were purportedly cured and rejuvenated. The experiments divided the medical establishment and engaged a Parisian public avid for scientific discoveries, especially medical therapies to cure disease and to provide eternal youth. For a moment at least, the Transfusion Affair fashionably eclipsed comets within an emerging “science for a polite society” in the late 1660s, and the attention of Paris turned to the therapeutic uses of animal blood, and of animals more generally. Continue reading …

PG204-540x362 copyThis article examines the attitudes toward animals and animal blood on both sides of the transfusionist debate and the resulting insistence on the “beast within” human nature that found a renewed expression at the beginning of the Classical Age.

 

PETER SAHLINS is Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, where has taught courses on early modern France and Europe since 1989. His past work focused on boundaries and identities, nationality and citizenship, and environmental history. His forthcoming book, The Year of the Animal: 1668 and the Origins of French Modernity (Zone Books) considers the unexpected appearance of animals on the French historical stage in and around 1668—in philosophy, medical practices, natural history, literary conversations, and visual culture—as a critical moment in the history of mechanism and absolutism in France.

 

Lenin’s Bodies & Buildings

A pair of essays on Soviet sovereignty and the afterlife of Lenin

File photo of the body of Vladimir Lenin in Moscow

Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty
by Alexei Yurchak

During discussions a few years ago in the Duma about the fate of Lenin’s body, which is displayed in the Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square, Vladimir Medinsky, then a Duma deputy (and now Russia’s minister of culture), suggested that it was time to take this body out of the mausoleum and bury it in the ground. “Do not fool yourselves,” he explained, “with the illusion that what is lying in the mausoleum is Lenin. What’s left there is only 10 percent of his body.” The respected political weekly Vlast’ decided to check this figure. During the autopsy in January 1924, wrote the weekly, Lenin’s brain and organs had been removed. When Lenin was embalmed, his internal liquids were replaced with embalming fluids. Since organs constitute about 17 percent of human body mass, and liquids about 60 percent, Lenin’s body had lost 77 percent of its original matter. Therefore, concluded the weekly, the Duma deputy had gotten it wrong: what is lying in the mausoleum is 23 percent of Lenin’s body, not 10 percent as Medinsky had suggested. Continue reading

YurchakFIG9In this essay, Alexei Yurchak analyzes the project of maintaining the body of V. I. Lenin in the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow for the past ninety years. It focuses on the materiality of this particular body, the unique biological science that developed around the project, and the peculiar political role this body has performed.

ALEXEI YURCHAK is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton, 2006) and is working on the political history of Lenin’s and other communist bodies and the science that developed around the projects of their preservation.

Snow White and  the Enchanted Palace: A Reading of Lenin’s Architectural Cult
by Jonathan Brooks Platt

PlattPrintFig9In 1965 the architect Konstantin Mel′nikov wrote a short memoir of his work on the Lenin Mausoleum, revealing a folkloric source for his 1924 design of the original sarcophagus. Mel′nikov describes his pyramidal glass construction as “a crystal with a radiant play of interior ambient light, suggesting the fairy tale of the sleeping princess.” The reference conflates two literary folk tales: Vasily Zhukovsky’s “Tale of the Sleeping Princess,” a reworking of Charles Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty,” and Alexander Pushkin’s “Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Heroes,” based on the Grimm brothers’ “Snow White.” Mel′nikov likens the embalmed V. I. Lenin to Zhukovsky’s sleeping princess, but his crystal coffin more directly refers to Pushkin’s dead one. Pushkin also likens death to sleep in his tale. Before being placed in the coffin, the princess “lay so fresh, so quiet, / As if under the wing of sleep, / That she seemed only just not to breathe,” and in the end she rises from the coffin with the cry: “Oh, how long I slept!” Applied to Lenin, this image is remarkably potent. Not only does Mel′nikov suggest the dead leader might be resurrected; he feminizes him as the bride of some future hero. Who will come to smash the coffin, awaken the princess, and live happily ever after? Continue reading

Jonathan Platt’s essay offers a chronotopic reading of V. I. Lenin’s architectural cult and its relation to Soviet sovereignty in the postrevolutionary period, as reflected in the discourse and plans surrounding the Lenin Mausoleum and the Palace of Soviets in Moscow. Central contexts include Andrei Platonov’s novella The Foundation Pit and Russian versions of the “Snow White” tale.

JONATHAN BROOKS PLATT is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. He works on Russian and Soviet literature and culture with special interests in the late romantic, Stalinist, and contemporary periods.

Representations’ Lorna Hutson on Henry V

gwaltUbP9PRIYSzZZpwf71mCXzT6nhn4IC7xBhrZvtUNxQvPnIlQnjkXXhk_ktBGJmUq-p_0VhLApYbyJG2jqh1Le_X_KtplE6aP9u8uYAneKME9K4ZCHAhndX-GhZrTAJ5vtnC7D3JxUHKsjWUew1aBgk-dU4hnG0YaLzzeTMCf1SH6Y1OKeGUoD3DcyEIUdnz4VsythkBj_SvyUBjd9dy19nl_Oe0keb

Lorna Hutson, Berry Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews and corresponding editor of Representations, will present the keynote lecture at the Renaissance and Early Modern Studies Designated Emphasis Annual Conference at UC Berkeley. The conference takes place from 12:30-5pm on Friday, April 24, in the Geballe Room at the Townsend Center for the Humanities. Hutson’s keynote address, entitled “‘Impounded as a Stray’: History, Law and Scottish Sovereignty in Henry V,” will begin at 3:30pm.

Hutson’s most recent essay for Representations, “Imagining Justice: Kantorowicz and Shakespeare,” appeared in the Spring 2009 issue (106) as part of a special forum that she edited, “Fifty Years of The King’s Two Bodies.”

Representations’ Alexei Yurchak in conversation with Mary Neuburger

Alexei Yurchak, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley and Representations board member, will participate in a conference on “The Pleasures of Backwardness: Consumer Desire and Modernity in Eastern Europe.” Yurchak will provide a response to the opening keynote address by Mary Neuburger, Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin and Director of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, entitled “To the ‘West’ and Back: Pleasure, Restraint, and ‘Civilization’ in Eastern Europe.”

 

The event will take place on Thursday, April 23, at 5:15pm in the Heynes Room at the Faculty Club, UC Berkeley. For more information about the conference schedule, please visit: http://history.berkeley.edu/events.

picture-253-1427664272

Yurchak’s recent essay, “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty,” is available in Representations 129 (Winter 2015).

Representations’ Tom Laqueur on Museums and the Construction of Narrative

Thomas W. Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Professor of History at UC Berkeley and founding board member of Representations, will present a talk on “Museums and the Construction of Narrative” at the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley. Part of the Magnes Collection’s PopUp Exhibition series, in which speakers present lectures based on selected collection items, this talk will discuss the challenges that contemporary museums face in creating and preserving narratives. On display for this talk will be a 2500-year-old coin and a glass vessel from Ancient Judaea; a basketball jersey from Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo (California); and a painting by Sarah Samuels Stein, Gertrude Stein’s sister-in-law, a student of Henri Matisse, and a collector of Matisse’s work.

6439027003_28c376c9b6

The talk will take place at noon on Wednesday, April 22, at the The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, located at 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley.

Description Across the Disciplines

Description Across the Disciplines

A conference at Columbia University organized by Stephen Best, Sharon Marcus, and Heather Love

Thursday, April 23, 2015 – Friday, April 24, 2015

Isle_of_the_Dead_480_300_s_c1

Participants in “Description Across the Disciplines” will consider the relation between description and other modes of engaging with objects of analysis, such as interpretation, evaluation, argument, and critique.

While description has proven to be contentious in literary studies and critical theory, it constitutes a central and prized aspect of scholarly practice in fields such as anthropology, musicology, and art history and has remained so despite critiques of objectivity and the “view from nowhere.”

How have practices of description—from ethnography to ekphrasis—shifted in light of changing views of the role of the observer, scholarly ethics, and epistemology? What protocols are involved in describing people, texts, images, musical scores, and material artifacts?

Questions of description have been taken up recently within several disciplines; we hope to expand these conversations by offering a comparative perspective.

The conference brings together presenters from history, anthropology, psychology, art history, and literary studies alongside curators and artists working in different genres, such as observational documentary and graphic memoir, for whom description represents a crucial aspect of their practice.

Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus are also the co-editors of the Representations special issue “The Way We Read Now,” a much-discussed collection of essays on surface reading published in Fall 2009.

 

Intellectual History and the Anthropocene

Deep Time at the Dawn of the Anthropocene

by Noah Heringman

The essay begins:

Man can have an influence on the climate he inhabits, and, in a manner, fix its temperature at any point that may be agreeable to him; and, what is singular, it is more difficult for him to cool than to heat the earth.

—Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, Epochs of Nature (1778)HeringmanOnlineFig4

The Anthropocene poses a radical new answer to an old question: where do humans fit in the story of deep time? As a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene comes freighted with the Enlightenment origins of the geological time scale, an escalation so profound that it dislocated time itself into a spatial register: deep time. The urgency of this intellectual history in the Anthropocene may seem less clear than the urgency of remembering and disentangling the contingencies of a global political economy built on fossil fuels. Still, as Dipesh Chakrabarty observed in 2009, “In the era of the Anthropocene, we need the Enlightenment (that is, reason) even more than in the past.” One Enlightenment text, Buffon’s Epochs of Nature, provides grounds for questioning Chakrabarty’s insistence on the novelty of the Anthropocene, defined memorably by him as a time in which “humans wield geological force” by virtue of anthropogenic climate change. “In no discussion of freedom in the period since the Enlightenment,” Chakrabarty contends, “was there ever any awareness of the geological agency that human beings were acquiring at the same time as and through processes closely linked to their acquisition of freedom.” As my epigraph shows, however, Buffon does construe freedom as geological agency (“heat[ing] the earth”), signaling the critical potential of a history of deep time in the Anthropocene. All too often civilization has presented itself as the culmination or completion of geological and anthropological time. This Enlightenment legacy is encoded in the very name of the Anthropocene. Recalling it might help to make the Anthropocene less anthropocentric. The cognate stories of deep time and the Anthropocene converge in the present on what I will argue is a primary symptom of the new epoch, and a part of its forgetting: evolutionary nostalgia. Continue reading

In this essay Heringman argues that the concept of deep time is essential to the intellectual history of the Anthropocene—the name widely (though not yet formally) used for our current geological epoch. Buffon’s Epochs of Nature, one of the earliest secular models of geological time in Enlightenment natural history, uses inscription as a metaphor to mark the advent of biological species, including humans, in the course of earth history. The Anthropocene extends this project of writing ourselves into the rock record. Buffon makes a productive interlocutor for the Anthropocene because he is one of the first to examine climate change and related constraints on human agency in the context of deep time. The essay examines Buffon’s natural history and associated Enlightenment discourses of primitive art and culture to gain a purchase on the challenges of scale posed by the Anthropocene.

NOAH HERINGMAN teaches English at the University of Missouri. His latest book is Sciences of Antiquity: Romantic Antiquarianism, Natural History, and Knowledge Work (2013).

John P. McCormick presents “On the Myth of the Conservative Turn in Machiavelli’s Florentine Histories”

John P. McCormick, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, will present a talk at UC Berkeley entitled “On the Myth of the Conservative Turn in Machiavelli’s Florentine Histories.” The event will take place on Wednesday, April 1 at 5:00pm in 300 Wheeler Hall.

hAu2w1KigivmJ6asdzNtBYuHCf9Wx3u41G-0-ItR346qSq6TsXzj09ZGC58ipAQeN1WlpSfI7gDK0z2QT-CUNGQcSxyVjmt-1jsW17V9YaykyFf3uLSSeH5xP56aVSOeSM37NWc80DHBBCVghWHYrp9SK4W9rTLrtcA_XU1FOvbDNA7GSN9Yut-IGgZtrjpyoMIqCT8fkWwuAv4Avnx8YYGIpBNalTIuw4

 

McCormick’s article, “Prophetic Statebuilding: Machiavelli and the Passion of the Duke” is available in Representations 115.1 (Summer 2011).