Aesthetics and the Human Working Group
Contact: Andrew Barbour (email@example.com) and David Swensen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Humanist pedagogy often takes as one of its premises an unshakeable belief in human educability, and in the humanizing and critical potential of an aesthetic education. Yet even today we often have little sense of how aesthetic discourses and aesthetic education relate to (and, at times, resist) the pedagogical techniques of humanism, or of the implicit theories of humankind and human educability that subtend early to late modern aesthetic theory. What happened to the techniques of aesthetic education between Erasmus and Schiller, between the aesthetic pedagogy of Renaissance humanism and the 18th-century revolution in aesthetic theory inaugurated by Schiller and Kant? Half a century ago M.H. Abrams famously sought to explore the historical and epistemic break separating the early modern humanist aesthetics of mimesis and imitation from the 18th-century (or Romantic) aesthetic discourse of the sublime and the beautiful, the advent of aesthetic modernity, yet his account only raised far more questions regarding the relation between aesthetics and humanism. This group seeks to explore the long under-theorized yet ubiquitous relation between humanism and aesthetics through revisiting and reading aslant pioneering works in aesthetic theory and critical pedagogy.
Comparative Media Working Group
Contact: Jane Hu (email@example.com)
The Comparative Media Studies Working Group interrogates different forms, genres, and concepts of “media,” with particular attention to transnational circulation and regional specificity. This working group’s aim is to challenge the predominant categorization and definition of “media” as a branch of film, communications, or new media studies. The Comparative Media Working Group aims to contextualize and historicize “media” and to compare media arts, forms, and practices without privileging specific media objects.
Contemporary Poetry and Poetics Working Group
Contact: Mary Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Daniel Benjamin (email@example.com)
The Contemporary Poetry and Poetics Working Group reads and discusses book-length poetry works, essays on poetry, and the creative writing of its members. Our aim is to create an atmosphere of intensive investigations of current projects within the poetry world — what and how writers are shaping their texts, what traditions and present day conditions shape these creative responses — and generally to consider what role poetry plays in our larger political, social, and intellectual world. The works we will consider include both poetry written in English and poetry in translation. Writers, thinkers, and readers from across all disciplines and departments, students, faculty, and other members of the Berkeley poetry community are all invited to our events.
Interdisciplinary Working Group on the Early United States
Contact: Alex Catchings (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Russell Weber (email@example.com)
The Interdisciplinary Working Group on the Early United States encourages cross-disciplinary exchange and collaboration among UC Berkeley graduate students, visiting scholars, and faculty working on the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century US. In bringing together scholars from History, English, Comparative Literature, Art History, Philosophy, and Political Science, inter alia, the group hopes to expand members’ understanding of the development of the US beyond the comfortable confines of each member’s discipline. By gathering scholars who apply an array of disciplinary approaches and preoccupations to a common time and place, the group intends to challenge conventions, expand fields of inquiry, and provide a space for future collaboration across these fields on topics in the early US.
Frankfurt School Working Group
Contact: Erin Greer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sheri Hellberg (email@example.com)
Started in 2006, this UC Berkeley Townsend Center-funded discussion group traces the works of a a group of intellectuals that came to be known as the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. Given the school’s diverse practices of transformative thought, our group tries different approaches each year: one year was devoted to just one text, Theodor W. Adorno’s ; another to various Marxist and Lukacian influences; another to parsing one concept – reification – by turning to sociologically-inflected theorists of public sphere from Weber to Habermas to Honneth, etc. In more recent years, we have alternated between reading foundational Frankfurt School texts and recent criticism that bears affinities with the methodology and/or themes that governed the Frankfurt School. This interest in bridging Frankfurt School work with contemporary critique has led our group to discussing links and corrective counterpoints between Frankfurt School thought and feminism, theories of labor and work, popular culture, Black radical politics, queer theory, and critiques of the “war on terror.” In the coming year (2015-2016), our reading discussions will focus on one theme each semester – nature in the Fall, and community / society in the Spring – and we will intersperse our discussions with speaking events featuring UC faculty, which we are sponsoring in collaboration with the Intellectual History and Theory Working Group.
Literature and the Digital Humanities Working Group
Contact: Amy Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Imogen Forbes-Macphail (email@example.com)
The Literature and the Digital Humanities working group is designed to offer literary scholars a specifically tailored, accessible introduction to Digital Humanities resources and tools. The group enables current students and faculty to present their work and discuss methodological and theoretical issues surrounding the Digital Humanities. Hands-on workshops provide a basic introduction to the tools available to literary scholars and the skills needed to use them. The group’s goal is for members to feel comfortable using a range of Digital Humanities tools and be aware of some of the methodological concerns which surround them.
Psychoanalysis Working Group
Contact: Hannah Ehrlinspiel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Andrew Key (email@example.com)
The primary aim of the Psychoanalysis working group is to undertake a thorough reading of the central texts of psychoanalytic theory, beginning with a chronological survey of the major works of Sigmund Freud before moving onto responses, criticisms, and developments of this work by German, French, and British psychoanalysts. A major intellectual aim of the Working Group is to map the current position of psychoanalytic thought within the larger disciplines of literary studies and film criticism in an attempt to develop a clearer understanding of the continuing relevance of psychoanalytic theory as a method of cultural and critical analysis. The Working Group seeks to demarcate the role of psychoanalysis as a methodology and understand the ways in which it compliments or complicates other frameworks of interpretation in contemporary thought, such as feminism, queer theory, and political economy.
Transnational and Ethnic American Studies Working Group
Contact: Gerard Ramm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TEASWG, now in its ninth year, exists to create an interdisciplinary conversation about postcolonial and transnational methods of scholarly inquiry in American Studies. TEASWG provides a forum for addressing American literatures in the wider context of empire and globalization, but the group is also committed to examining these literatures in terms of their significance for American multicultural, comparative ethnic, indigenous, immigrant, and border studies. TEASWG meets regularly to engage critical texts through group discussion and sponsors a variety of talks by scholars in the field, as well as some co-sponsored interdisciplinary events throughout the year.