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.

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).

 

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).

Chronicle of Higher Ed on “Surface Reading”

“The New Modesty in Literary Criticism”

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Jeffrey J. Williams’s recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in identifying a shift toward a new, more empirical, method of literary study, focuses significantly on “surface reading,” the subject of an influential special issue of Representations: “The Way We Read Now” (Fall 2009), edited by Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best.

According to Williams, “a good deal of contemporary criticism has performed ‘symptomatic reading,’ a term that conveys looking for the hidden meaning of a text, using, for example, Marxian, Freudian, or deconstructive interpretation…. Surface reading instead focuses on ‘what is evident, perceptible, apprehensible in texts,’ as Best and Marcus put it. Thus the critic is no longer like a detective who doesn’t trust the suspect but more the social scientist who describes the manifest statements of a text.”

Indeed, as Marcus and Best point out in their introduction to “The Way We Read Now,” “The essays [included in the issue] remind us that as much as our objects of study may conceal the structures that give rise to them, they also wear them on their sleeves.”

Find “The Way We Read Now” online, or read pieces by other authors working in this vein (such as Margaret Cohen, Elaine Freedgood, Cannon Schmitt, Eric Bulson, and others) in more recent numbers of Representations, especially the special issue “Denotatively, Technically, Literally” (Winter 2014), edited by Freedgood and Schmitt.

Sarah Winter presents “ ‘Have-his-carcase’: Habeas Writs, (Human) Rights, and Pickwick”

WinterSarah Winter, Professor of English and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut, will present an upcoming talk at UC Berkeley entitled “’Have-his-carcase’: Habeas Writs, (Human) Rights, and Pickwick.”

The event will take place on Monday, December 8 at 5pm in 306 Wheeler Hall. The talk will focus on a pre-circulated paper (to obtain a copy, contact Wendy Xin at wendy.xin@berkeley.edu). The event is sponsored by the Nineteenth Century British Cultural Studies Townsend Center Working Group and the Florence Green Bixby Chair in English.

Sarah Winter’s essay, “Darwin’s Saussure: Biosemiotics and Race in Expressions,” winner of the North American Victorian Studies Association’s Donald Gray Prize for the best article in Victorian studies from 2009, is available in Representations 107 (Summer 2009).

Quirk Historicism

Quirk Historicism and the End(s) of Art History: A One-Day Symposium

Organized by Nicholas Mathew and Mary Ann Smart

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Saturday, Nov. 1, UC Berkeley
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley

In many humanities disciplines, the past twenty years or so have witnessed a dramatic expansion in the types of objects and ideas that can be meaningfully invoked in the course of historical study. One consequence of this has been a new reveling in the allure of objets trouvés or historical micronarratives – the conversion of the obscurity, strangeness, and distance of historical debris into a form of rhetoric, which frequently acts as a substitute for more conventional forms of argument or exposition. The emergence of this tendency, which we’re calling Quirk Historicism, is thus partly a story about how historical study has been turned into a kind of aesthetic experience.   

Participants include Nicholas Mathew, Mary Ann Smart, James Davies, Emily Dolan, Deirdre Loughridge, James Currie, Benjamin Piekut, Aoife Monks, Ellen Lockhart, Benjamin Walton, Thomas Laqueur, and Alan Tansman.

To find out more, visit the conference website at http://quirkhistoricism.wordpress.com.

 

“Poetry and the Price of Value”

Representations author Christopher Nealon in conversation

On Friday, October 17, the UC Berkeley English department colloquia on 20th/21st-Century Literature and Poetry and Poetics present a conversation with Christopher Nealon, professor of English at Johns Hopkins University. The conversation will be based around a pre-circulated paper, “Poetry and the Price of Value.” The event will take place at UC Berkeley in Wheeler Hall 300, at 2pm.

Poetry and the Price of Value (Christopher Nealon)

Christopher Nealon’s essay, “Reading on the Left,” is available in Representations 108 (Fall 2009).

 

“Designing Histories of Slavery for the Age of the Database”

Representations board member Stephen Best hosts event with Vincent Brown

Vincent Brown Lecture

On Friday, October 17, The Black Room and the Institute of International Studies will co-sponsor a talk by Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of History and Professor of African & African-American Studies and the Director of the History Design Studio at Harvard University.

This presentation considers three graphic histories of slavery—a web-based animation of Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, a cartographic narrative of the Jamaican slave revolt of 1760–61, and a web-based archive of enslaved family lineages in Jamaica and Virginia—that illustrate how the archive of slavery is more than the records bequeathed to us by the past; the archive also includes the tools we use to explore it, the vision that allows us to see its traces, and the design decisions that communicate our sense of history’s possibilities.

The event will take place at UC Berkeley in the Maude Fife Room (Wheeler Hall 315) at noon.

What Was African American Literature?

Representations’ Best, Lye, and Otter in conversation with Kenneth Warren

On Friday, September 12, UC Berkeley English department faculty and Representations board members Stephen Best, Colleen Lye, and Samuel Otter will join Kenneth Warren, Professor of English at the University of Chicago, for a roundtable on Warren’s book, What Was African American Literature? (Harvard University Press, 2011). The roundtable will take place at UC Berkeley in the Maud Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, from 12-2 pm.

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