Representations’ Lorna Hutson on Henry V

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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.

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Yurchak’s recent essay, “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty,” is available in Representations 129, no. 1 (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.

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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

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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.

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

 

The University in Crisis

The University in Crisis:

The Destruction and Dismantling of the University of California

Panel Discussion | April 1 | 2-4 p.m. | 159 Mulford Hall, UC BerkeleyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Berkeley Anthropology Undergraduate Association presents a critical  discussion of ongoing University of California issues such as budget, salary, and funding transparency and negotiations; student protests and administrative response; corporate and private interest involvement on campus; faculty, employee, and student unions’/associations’ interests; curriculum standards and canons of knowledge; and academic freedom.

Laura Nader, Professor, Department of Anthropology; Paul Rabinow, Professor, Department of Anthropology; Brian Barsky, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences; James Vernon, Professor, Department of History.

James Vernon, with Colleen Lye and Christopher Newfield, edited the 2011 Representations special issue The Humanities and the Crisis of the Public University

 

Print, Anatomy, and Eucharistic Language in The Anatomy of Melancholy

“Content to be Pressed”: Robert Burton and the editio princeps hominis

by Christopher Mead

The essay begins:

In a note added to the last leaf of the fifth edition of the Anatomy of Melancholy (1638)—the last edition published before the author’s death in 1640—Robert Burton prefaces the list of errata with an attack on his printers. Addressed “Lectori,” the Latin complaint shares a number of details about the publication history of the volume that the reader holds in her hands:

Listen, good friend! This edition was begun at Edinburgh a short while ago, but was at once suppressed by our printers. After a time, with the consent of the printers of Edinburgh, it was continued at London, and finally completed at Oxford; and now, such as it is, it makes its fifth appearance in public. If the beginning does not match the end, nor the middle part either of them by reason of the numerous blunders and omissions, whom will you blame? The corrector, the printer, this man or that, or every one who has had a hand in it? As far as I am concerned, you may blame any one of them you like,—or the whole lot. Meanwhile I, the author, who have been almost cast on one side by them, am subjected to these worries, and pay the penalty for their waywardness. At their whim I am first drowned in the deep, and then caught up again and brought upon the scene, fastened to doors and posts, and exposed for any one to buy. But methinks I had better remember Harpocrates, lest I say anything too harsh against these my masters. For all my anger I keep myself in check, and,—what better—correct their faults and blunders thus.

After four editions that identify their printers, the fifth does not name one. It was, as E. G. Duff puts it, “nobody’s child,” printed in parts in Edinburgh, Oxford, and London that were then collected and put together in Oxford. The details of what led to this arrangement are unknown and subject to a good deal of speculation: Duff suggests they involve the effort of Henry Cripps, half-owner of the book’s copyright, to bring Robert Young, Scot and piratical printer, to heel.

Burton describes the broadside title pages posted by the bookseller around town as if they are his body—a literalization that makes more sense when we remember that from the third edition (1628) onward, the title page included a likeness of Burton as “Democritus Junior.” As we shall see, this paratextual scene in which the author is rescued from the oblivion of Lethean waters only to be publicly affixed to doors and posts (“auctor . . . portis & postibus affixus”) corresponds to the moments in the text proper where he identifies publication with a series of humiliating punishments wrought on his passionate body. As the richness of these protestations demonstrates, Burton accepts and even embraces the punishment of print publication, for it provides the means by which he hopes to cure his melancholic readers. In printed pages of the Anatomy, Burton enacts what might be called a eucharistic fantasy in which his body is distributed and then consumed by distant readers who are transformed from within. Paradoxically, this amplifying effort brings the author both fame and oblivion: while print allows him to communicate to a multitude of readers distant from him in time and space, the nature of the print market is such that ever-increasing amounts of printed materials ensure that his effort will soon be buried under piles of new publications. On one level, then, the press makes eucharistic amplification available to human authors for the first time. On another level, however, the press’s amplified product is a commodity bound for market. The author’s feeling of enlarged distributivity is only temporary: soon he will be forgotten, replaced by newer products—unless, of course, he is resurrected in the form of a new edition.

These passionate scenes of authorial display, often dismissed by critics as characteristic bits of Burtonian excess or even fun, testify to the remarkable historical period in which The Anatomy of Melancholy circulated. During the long transitional period between the small print runs of the incunabula and the rise of the corporately authored newspaper in the early eighteenth century, authors turned to the Eucharist—Christ’s chosen means for communicating his bodily presence to believers separated from him in time and space—as they sought to conceptualize their mechanical amplification through the press. Because the Eucharist has often been parsed for its doctrinal content, especially since the reformation, its original status as a medium of communication tends to be overlooked. For Burton, along with a number of other important English authors, the Eucharist offers a way to think through the still novel feeling of being amplified “in print.” Doubly Christological, the author’s dissemination in type involves suffering and fame in equal measure.

It is no accident that the eucharistic potential of typographic life is felt most strongly in England, where late-medieval expressions of sacramental culture like the Charters of Christ allowed writers to imagine duplicative transcendence by adopting Christ’s subject position as their own. Under manuscript conditions, the author’s ability to write eucharistically is limited, the writer’s textual amplification constrained by the slowness and irregularity of chirographic reproduction, a method of duplication that differs greatly from that of the eucharistic wafer, recently described by Aden Kumler as a “serially produced monochrome multiple in a world filled with handcrafted unica.” In the Charters of Christ, writers imaginatively transcend these conditions by mapping the human technology of the charter onto the divine technology that is the Eucharist; with the rise of print, however, they are able to overcome these conditions altogether. Of course, while the Eucharist and print are analogous, they are not identical: Christ’s miracle binds Satan, but publication in type is Faustian at best, involving a loss of agency to capital, public opinion and, as Burton describes in his prefatory note, to the dominators who own the mechanical means of his literary reproduction. To understand the logic behind what might otherwise seem an unlikely alignment of eucharistic and typographical reproduction, we must turn to the recent history of the salvific technology that Burton seeks to emulate. Continue reading …

CHRISTOPHER MEAD is a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is currently completely his dissertation, “Mass Communication: Eucharistic Authorship in Early Modern England.” His research interests include the history of technology and the relationship between religion and literature.

Death with Interruptions

Death With Interruptions premiere and associated events 

In conjunction with the premiere of the opera Death with Interruptions, co-created by Representations founding editor Thomas Laqueur, two free public discussions will be held at UC Berkeley. Based on Nobel Prize winner José Saramago’s novel of the same name, Death with Interruptions features music composed by Kurt Rohde and a libretto by Laqueur.

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On Wednesday, March 18, longtime Saramago translator Margaret Jull Costa will join in discussion of the opera with Dennis Washburn (Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor in Asian Studies and Chair of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth and translator of the forthcoming Norton edition of Tale of Genji), Robert Alter (Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley and translator of Genesis and The Five Books of Moses), and Paula Varsano (Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley and translator of premodern Chinese poetry). The event will take place from 5:00-7:00 pm in Room 308A in the Doe Library.

On Thursday, March 19, Representations editorial board co-chair Mary Ann Smart leads a discussion of the opera with Laqueur, Kurt Rohde (Professor of Music at UC Davis), Majel Connery (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at UC Berkeley and co-founder and executive director of Opera Cabal), and Shalom Goldman (Professor of Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University). The event will take place from noon to 2:00 pm in 3335 Dwinelle Hall.

Ticketing information for the San Francisco performances at ODC Theater on March 19 and March 21 can be found on the Left Coast Ensemble’s website.

A free noon concert will be offered Monday, March 16 at UC Berkeley in Hertz Hall. Please see the event listing for more information.

Leah Price presents “Reading Against Time”

Leah Price, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English at Harvard University, will present a talk at UC Berkeley entitled “Reading Against Time” The event will take place on Wednesday, March 18 at 4:00pm in 3335 Dwinelle Hall.

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Price’s article, “From The History of a Book to a “History of the Book” appeared as part of the Representations 108 special issue on “Surface Reading” (Fall 2009). More recently, she contributed a response to the “Search” Special Forum, available in Representations 127 (Summer 2014).