October 14-16: Conference at Harvard on Stanley Cavell & Literary Studies (Updated 9/30)

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Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies:

A Conference at Harvard University

[Click here to see photos from the event]

[Click here to see video of Oct. 14 panel]

As some of you know, Richard Eldridge and I are coediting a collection of newly commissioned essays — entitled Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism — which will explore the relevance of Cavell’s writings for literary theorists and critics (to be published in 2011 by Continuum). Over the past few months, we’ve been organizing a 3-day conference related to this volume, which will take place at Harvard University, October 14-16, 2010. We are now ready to let you know what the conference will look like, and to invite you to join us for it (it is free and open to the public; no registration necessary).

[Click here to see conference posters]

The primary focus of the conference will be the presentation and discussion of draft versions of the commissioned chapters for the volume. But it will begin, the evening of October 14th, at 6:30pm, in the Fong Auditorium of Boylston Hall, with a celebration of the publication of Cavell’s forthcoming philosophical autobiography, Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory (Stanford Univ. Press, forthcoming in October). Following an introduction by the Humanities Center’s director, Homi Bhabha — to whom Richard and I are deeply grateful for generously supporting this event — there will be brief responses to selected passages from Cavell’s memoir, presented by five distinguished philosophers who have close, and long-standing ties, to Prof. Cavell:

After their brief presentations, there will be a discussion and Q&A session (open to members of the audience) moderated by Nancy Bauer (Tufts University). Prof. Cavell will attend the Oct. 14 event, as well as the rest of the conference.

The next two days of the conference — Friday Oct. 15 and Saturday Oct. 16 — will take place in the Thompson Room of the Barker Center. Friday and Saturday will consist of presentations of the commissioned chapters (grouped into panels of two or three papers at a time), each set of papers to be followed by some comments and/or questions from an invited respondent. We will be sure to allot substantial time for discussion of each set of papers. Here is a tentative schedule:

  • Friday, 8:30am. Opening remarks
  • 8:45-9:10.Richard Eldridge (Philosophy, Swarthmore College) and Bernard Rhie (English, Williams College), “Introduction: Cavell, Literary Studies, and the Human Subject”
  • 9:10-9:35.Anthony Cascardi (Comparative Literature, Rhetoric, Spanish, U.C. Berkeley), “Cavell, Kant, and the Work of Literary Criticism”
  • 9:35-10:00.Charles Altieri (English, U.C. Berkeley), “A Morality for Misanthropes: How Cavell’s Language for Morality Sets Off Wittgenstein’s Silence”
    • 10:00-10:45. Response and Discussion: Richard Moran (Philosophy, Harvard University)
  • 10:45-11:05. Break (tea and coffee will be available)
  • 11:05-11:30. Naomi Scheman (Philosophy and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Minnesota), “A Storied World: On Meeting and Being Met”
  • 11:30-11:55. Toril Moi(Literature, English, and Theater Studies, Duke University), “Beauvoir and Cavell on the Other”
    • 11:55-12:40. Response and Discussion: Michael Fischer (English, Trinity University)
  • 12:40-2:00. Lunch (no scheduled conference lunch; individuals should make their own plans)
  • 2:00-2:25. Sarah Beckwith (English and Theater Studies, Duke University), “Shakepeare’s Private Linguists”
  • 2:25-2:50. Lawrence Rhu(English, University of South Carolina), “On Cavell on Shakespeare: Losing Mamillius, Finding Perdita”
    • 2:50-3:35. Response and Discussion: William Flesch (English, Brandeis University)
  • 3:35-4:00. Break (tea and coffee will be available)
  • 4:00-4:25. Andrew Miller (English, Indiana University), “On Not Being Someone Else”
  • 4:25-4:50. Joshua Wilner(English and Comparative Literature, City College and The Graduate Center – CUNY), “’Communicating with Objects’: Romanticism, Skepticism and the Specter of Animism”
    • 4:50-6:00. Response and Discussion: Laura Quinney (English, Brandeis University)
  • 7:00. Conference dinner at The Inn at Harvard (by invitation, for conference participants)
  • Saturday, 8:30am. Tea and coffee will be available
  • 9:00-9:25am. Paul Grimstad (English, Yale University), “Emerson Discomposed”
  • 9:25-9:50. Elisa New(English, Harvard University), “Neighboring, Near and Next-to in Cavell, Thoreau and William Carlos Williams”
    • 9:50-10:35. Response and Discussion: William Day (Philosophy, Le Moyne College)
  • 10:35-11:00. Break (tea and coffee will be available)
  • 11:00-11:25. R.M. Berry (English, Florida State University), “Cultural Politics and the Universality of Aesthetic Judgment, or What’s so Scary about Conventions?”
  • 11:25-11:50. Garrett Stewart(English, University of Iowa), “The Word Viewed: Literary Skepticism Degree Zero”
    • 11:50-12:35. Response and Discussion: D.N. Rodowick (Visual and Environmental Studies, Film and Visual Studies, Harvard University)
  • 12:35-2:00. Lunch (no scheduled conference lunch; individuals should make their own plans)
  • 2:00-2:25. John Gibson (Philosophy, University of Louisville) and Simona Bertacco (English, University of Milan and University of Louisville), “Skepticism and the Idea of Radical Otherness: Reflections on Postcolonial Subjects and Cavellian Humans”
  • 2:25-2:50. Robert Chodat(English, Boston University), “Empiricism, Exhaustion, and Meaning What We Say: Cavell and Contemporary Fiction”
    • 2:50-3:35. Response and Discussion: Jay Cantor (English, Tufts University)
  • 3:35-4:00. Break (tea and coffee will be available)

The conference is free and open to the public, and we invite you to attend and to join us in conversation. No registration is necessary: just come if you like. If you will be coming from outside the Boston area, and need a place to stay, please consult the list of “Accommodations around Harvard Square” maintained by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

This conference is being made possible by the generous financial support of a number of bodies: Harvard’s Humanities Center; The Office of the Provost at Harvard University; Harvard’s Departments of Philosophy and English; The Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature at Duke University; Continuum Publishers; The Dean of the Faculty’s Office at Williams College; and The Provost’s Office at Swarthmore College. To all of them, our deep thanks.

If you have any questions about the event, please email me (Bernie Rhie) at: brhie@williams.edu

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