the undead: alternatives and alterity
new seminar series and film club, chaired by edia connole
the Undead meets Wednesdays fortnightly from 14.00 – 17.00. If you would like to be involved in this seminar please contact Edia Connole edia.connole(at)gradcam.ie
This seminar will explore alternatives (thought and action) and alterity (difference/otherness) by examining bodies that transgress the boundaries between life and death (being and non-being). As bodies, the undead or living-dead refuse classification; they are anomalous. They may seem to be both living and dead, or neither: bare-life, corpses with agency, living bodies that emulate dead ones, hybrids of animate and inanimate, immortals with flesh.
The undead or living-dead are monstrous (grotesque, horrific, brute, beasts, ogres, devils, savages etc.), they not only violate norms of embodiment, conduct, exchange etc., but, in so doing, they invite us to question both theory (monster: from monstrare, to show or give proof) and futurity (monere: to warn), and in relation to form (speculative realism, dark materialism etc.). As B.F. Saunders has noted, the undead's 'deviance calls for “theory” - rather insistently - but their materiality brings theory down to earth (if ever theory was somewhere else)'.
This seminar series will pursue two initial lines of inquiry. First, case studies, specific representations or exemplars of living death: monsters and the monstrous in mythology; immortality and alterity in Greek philosophy; practices of scapegoating in Christianity; teratology in Christian neoplatonic theology and philosophy; mediæval thought and literature, Empire and slavery; animalism, cannibalism, vampires, zombies, cyborgs, avatars, neo-morts, and so on, also, embodiments of bio-medical modes of undeath: transfusion, transplantation, implantation, deep coma, brain death, cryogenic preservation etc.
Secondly, we will examine theory and philosophy that speaks to structures and effects of undeath: Plato and Socrates on death and immortality; Aristotle on the soul and slavery; Pseudo-Dionysius on negativity; Eriugena on monstrosity; Montaigne on melancholy and cannibalism; Heidegger on melancholy and authentic being-towards-death; Hegel on the Master-Slave dialectic; Marx on vampire Capital; Freud on the unheimlich, mourning and melancholy; Kristeva on abjection and horror; Williams on deformed discourse; Derrida and Zizek on the monstrous; Botting on the "Gothic"; Badiou on the inhuman; Foucault on the abnormal/ monstrous and bio-politics; Agamben on language and death, bare-life and bio-politics; Mbembe on necropolitics; Montag on necro-economics; Kirk on philosophical zombies; Nancy on transplantation; Negarestani on theory-fiction, Cyclonopedia etc.
This seminar will be emphatically cross-disciplinary seeking to attract graduate students from literature, visual and cultural studies, philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, and medicine.
summary list of sessions
Seminar 1 (Jan 19): From the Mythology of Monsters to the Meta-physics of Reason: Immortality and Alterity in Plato's Phaedo.
Plato, Phaedo, in The Last Days of Socrates, translated by Hugh Tredennick and Harold Tarrant (2003), London and New York: Penguin Books, pp. 97 – 206.
(available at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedo.html )
Montaigne, Michel de. (1993) To philosophize is to learn how to die, in Michel De Montaigne: The Essays: A Selection, translated and edited by M.A Screech, London and New York: Penguin Classics, pp. 19 – 36.
(available at http://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu.xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/766/montaigne.pdf/sequence=1 )
Seminar 2 (Feb 2): From the Mythology of Monsters to the Metaphysics of Reason II: Defining the Other (in Parmenides and Plato).
Plato, Parmenides, translated by Mary Louse Gill and Paul Ryan, in ,i>Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, pp. 359 – 397.
(available at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/parmenides.html )
Plato, Phaedrus, translated by Alexander Nehamus and Paul Woodruff, in Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, pp. 506 – 556.
(available at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedrus.html ).
Special Event (Feb 11): To learn how to die is to philosophize'
An exercise in the creative writing of alternate history - a type of speculative fiction, otherwise known as Uchrony, and set in a world where one or more historical events unfolded differently from this one. The extended text will be presented by Edia Connole for the 'Undead: alternatives and alterity' seminar to take place on Friday, Feb 11th, 11 – 13.00, in the context of Ciara Mac Mahon's exhibition, Liminality, at the NCAD Gallery. (For more information see pdf.)
Seminar 3 (Feb 16): The Philosopher's Soul I: Aristotle's De Anima
Reading: (note change of second reading)
Aristotle, De Anima, translated, with an introduction and notes, by Hugh Lawson-Tancred (1986) London and New York: Penguin Books.
Thacker, Eugene (2009) "After Life: De Anima and Unhuman Politics" in Radical Philosophy. 155, May/June, pp. 31-40.
Seminar 4 (Feb 24): Love. Life, Death: ZombiesThis is a special seminar led by Prof. Fred Botting of the (London Graduate School). Botting is author and editor of many books on aspects of the Gothic, including the critically acclaimed (1995) Gothic (Routledge Critical Idioms) and (2008) Limits of Horror: Technology, Bodies, Gothic (Manchester University Press).
Seminar 5 (Mar 2): The Philosophers Soul II: Aristotle's Zoology and Metaphysics; Language/Speech and Death
Aristotle, Historia Animalium (The History of Animals) (Book V, Chapter 1; Book VIII, Chapter 1; Book IX, Chapter 1) in The Basic Works of Aristotle, edited by Richard Mc Keon (2001), New York: The Modern Library, pp. 633 – 640.
Aristotle, De Partibus Animalium (On the Parts of Animals) (Book I, Chapters 1 – 5; Book II, Chapter 1) in The Basic Works of Aristotle, edited by Richard Mc Keon (2001), New York: The Modern Library, pp. 643 – 663.
Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium (On the Generation of Animals) ( BookI, Chapters I, 17 – 18, 20 – 23) in The Basic Works of Aristotle, edited by Richard Mc Keon (2001), New York: The Modern Library, pp. 665 – 680.
Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bks IV (Theta) – X (with specific emphasis on Theta) in The Basic Works of Aristotle edited by Richard Mc Keon (2001), New York: The Modern Library, pp. 731 – 850.