Northwestern University

Fri 4:00 PM

Critical Theory Cluster Lecture by Branka Arsic: "Entomological Persons: Insects and Ahab"

recurring see all events in this series

When: Friday, May 12, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM  

Where: Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, Regenstein MCR (RCMA), 70 Arts Circle, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Sarah Peters   847.491.3864

Group: Critical Theory

Comparative Literary Studies
Comparative Literary Studies
English Department

Category: Academic


The Critical Theory Program Presents:

Lecture and graduate student workshop with visiting scholar Branka Arsic
"Entomological Persons: Insects and Ahab"

Reconstructing Melville’s interest in the entomology of his time, and paying special attention to his comments concerning experimentation on worms and polyps, my talk investigates lessons he learns about continuity, integrity and complex forms of life. I will be especially interested in investigating how the entological claims that life continues sensing even when its discreet formations are violated applies to instances of human life that he describes in Mardi and Moby-Dick. In both novels the disintegration of figured bodies entails a complex discussion of the gatheredness of persons to whom they belong; strangely, that means that in most cases the cohesion of bodies – or any representable figuration – is not a condition of a person’s existence. My paper will thus be concerned with the status of such claims in Melville. What can it possibly mean to say that human personhood multiplies, disseminates and disperses? What can it mean to propose in all earnest that parts of a disintegrated body – amputated limbs – go on living a personalized life of their own? Strange as those questions are they allow us to glimpse decisive aspects of Melville’s ethics.

Co-sponsored by the Buffett Institute, Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, Center for Global Culture and Communication, English Department, Religious Studies Department, Philosophy Department, and Comparative Literary Studies Program.

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