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Lecture series 2014-15

The Transformative Periphery: Negotiating Identities from the Margins

Marginal figures, outsiders and those at the peripheries of societies threaten and challenge mainstream beliefs, conventional views and entrenched identities. This is true for the disenfranchised, the vulnerable, the ill, the migrant, ethnic, religious, sexual or other minorities, but also for the radical thinker or the avant-garde artist. Provocations from the margins are among the most powerful agents for change in societies; such interventions can quickly de-centre apparently stable identities and challenge individuals or communities to reassess their situation and redefine themselves.

This trans-disciplinary lecture series will interrogate the complex dynamics of the centre-periphery dialectic and its transformative power from the perspective of a range of disciplines and discourses. It will also investigate the power dynamics at play in defining the centre and the margins. It will look both at individual re-negotiations of experience and at the role of the transformative periphery for societies as a whole. It will analyse the re-negotiation of identities in a number of case studies, in artistic representations and cultural phantasms, and will examine related mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion around issues such as the body, illness, age and wellbeing, religion or citizenship.

The lecture series emerges from Trinity College Dublin’s research focus on ‘Identities in Transformation’ led by the Trinity Long Room Hub. It will showcase work undertaken by researchers from Trinity and invited international experts from the fields of History, Literature and Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Education, Psychology and Sociology.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 | 18:15 - 20:30

MONSTROUS IDENTITIES: THREATS FROM THE MARGINS

Gate-Crashing: Identification and the Collective Zombie

A lecture by Prof Jennifer Rutherford (The Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia)
Abstract: Only a few years ago zombie was a word referring to a finite number of traits and characteristics. According to the New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) a zombie, “is a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, esp. in certain African and Caribbean religions”. It had the further informal meaning of “a person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive to their surroundings”. But as the first decade of the 21st century unfolded, zombie gathered meanings. Today, zombie is no longer just a fictional form, a sub-genre or fantasy-scape, nor is it restricted to video games, comic strips and horror films. Within the space of a decade, zombie has morphed from a word of finite meanings — into an endlessly digressing metaphor gathering associations as it slips from objects to discourses to things — at a far remove from Haiti or Hollywood.
One way we can understand the mobility of zombies today is as a particular kind of metaphor; — a metatrope — a figure that binds together other figures in a dense network of meanings.  And as a metatrope, Zombie is inciting forms of identification and pleasures that are moving off the screen and into the street. In zombie parades, groups of people who have entered imaginatively into a fictional form, collectively create a social ritual out of its imaginary constituents. This movement from narrative to social enactment, from the imaginary and symbolic world of fiction to the corporeal world of bodies, acts, rituals and performances creates a new kind of collective manifestation. Consecrated by rituals of performance and pantomime the zombie parade is a collective event that transforms a private act of viewing zombie films or playing zombie games into a visible, public and global manifestation of a collective identification. This talk will explore the collective ‘we’ of these new publics. 
Bio: Jennifer Rutherford is Associate Professor in Sociology and Literature and Deputy Director of the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub. Her published works include Zombies (Routledge 2013); Halfway House; The Poetics of Australian Space co-edited with Barbara Holloway (UWA Press 2010); The Gauche IntruderFreud, Lacan and the White Australian Imaginary (MUP 2001)and the acclaimed television documentary Ordinary People (Film Australia; 2001). Trained in psychoanalysis at the École de la Cause freudienne, she writes and teaches in the fields of psychoanalytic and social theory, literary and visual cultures, and race relations. She has held research and teaching positions in English, Cultural Studies, Sociology and Australian Studies at the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Macquarie and at the Australian National University. Her forthcoming book Melancholy Migrations; The Other Australia is co-authored with the novelist Brian Castro.

The Success (hi)Story of Vampirism as a Cultural Phantasma from Serbia to Utah

A lecture by Prof Clemens Ruthner (TCD)
Abstract: The vampire is the epitome of liminality, or of identities in transformation, respectively: he/she/it is "neither dead nor alive, but living in death" (M. Summers). This talk will lead you through the different stages of the cultural appropriation of the most famous undead as a viral mask of the Other in a secularized culture: from the demonic "proto-vampires" of Antiquity to the spectacular historical cases of vampire mass hysteria in Serbia (1725-32) and their 'media' aftermath, and then further to the first literary texts, until the narrative of vampirism as a secular cultural phantasma is fixated by Stoker's Dracula in 1897, and its current, postmodern format by Anne Rice - not to forget the various 'young adolescent' versions of vampire, most notoriously by the US Mormon writer Stephenie Meyer.
Bio: Clemens Ruthner is Lecturer in German and European Studies in the Department of Germanic Studies at Trinity College Dublin and Director of Research for the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies. His research interests include cultural narratives of Otherness (e.g. monstrosity, ethnicity, gender etc.), cultural theory and Central European Studies (19th and 20th century). He has authored two books on the fantastic in literature (Unheimliche Wiederkehr,1993; Am Rande, 2004) and is editor or co-editor of several anthologies of essays.

Abandoned: The Wolf Man from Antiquity to Today

A lecture by Prof Peter Arnds (TCD)
Abstract: Embarking from a definition of the medieval wolf man as homo sacer, the criminal outlawed from the community, in his talk Prof Arnds will follow the evolution of man from the Greek Lykaon myth, through the middle ages, the early modern age, romanticism, realism, modernism, to post-1945 prose. He will focus largely on the German(ic) wolf man, and some of the textual passages will feature this figure based on the medieval vargr (meaning both ‘wolf’ and ‘outlaw’) in representations blending myth and reality. He will trace the evolution of the wolf man from his religious demonization in the Schelmenroman, to the persecution of wolf women/witches in the romantic fairy tale, the racism towards Jews and Gypsies perceived as wolves in nineteenth-century novels by Hugo, Raabe, and Stoker, the wolf man as psychoanalytical paradigm in modernism, to his reappearance in postmodern literary parodies about the Third Reich.
Bio: Peter Arnds is a Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Literary Translation at Trinity College Dublin. He is the author of two books including Representation, Subversion, and Eugenics in Günter Grass's The Tin Drum (Camden House, 2004) as well as numerous articles on comparative literature and German culture. In addition to his scholarly writings, he continues to write and publish poetry and prose.
To listen to a podcast of the evening, please click here

Wednesday, 19 February 2014 | 18:15
Growing to Life: Identity and Mental Illness

A lecture by Dr Mike Watts (Grow, Ireland)
Abstract: The term ‘mental illness’ serves to convey and confirm a number of tenaciously negative identities. Legally and medically such a diagnosis suggests a lifelong deficiency within a person’s brain, bringing into question their right to citizenship, their capacity to make decisions and their ability to lead a responsible, productive and independent life.  It also taps into beliefs and prejudices deeply embedded within the community and amplified by the media that people with mental illness are dangerous, different and a potential threat to society. Recent narrative research conducted in Ireland, which sought to examine processes involved in recovery from ‘mental illness’ and the role played by mutual help, found that these negative identities can be overturned and that the experience of mental illness and recovery can in fact be experienced as a re-enchantment with life. Research participants described a deep sense of personal value, purpose and identity and saw their experience as a potentially valuable to others.
Bio: Mike Watts has spent the last 35 years involved in the area of recovery from mental illness. Both Mike and his wife Fran joined GROW, Ireland’s largest mutual help organisation working in the area of mental health, in 1976, out of personal need.  Together they recovered from a variety of diagnoses including pathological shyness, schizophrenia and bi polar depression. As part of his own recovery Mike studied psychology (NUIG 1980 -1983) family therapy (UCD 1990 -1992) and most recently completed a PhD through the school of nursing and midwifery in Trinity College. This  narrative study examined the role played by mutual help within processes of recovery from mental illness. Mike worked as a fieldworker and then national program coordinator for GROW from 1983 -2012. He edited two volumes of recovery stories, Soul Survivors Volumes One and Two and was editor of GROWing for 17 years.
To listen to the podcast, please click here.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 | 18:15
The Phenomenology of the Body in Shame: Transformation and Identity

A lecture by Dr Luna Dolezal (TCD)
Abstract: In this talk, shame as an embodied experience will be examined in order to discuss a central affective mechanism of inclusion and exclusion within social groups. As a mechanism of normalization shame operates by instilling and reinforcing patterns of invisibility and exclusion. It will be argued that although shame is an integral part of intersubjective and intercoporeal life, it plays an ambivalent role in human relations. On the one hand, it can be used to positively orient a subject into ethical and political solidarity with others, while on the other, it can be used as a tool of social oppression and exclusion. This talk will examine shame as the affective edge of the transformative periphery.
Bio: Luna Dolezal is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, TCD. She was previously the IJPS Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin. Her research is primarily in the areas of phenomenology, medical humanities, embodiment theory and feminist philosophy. In particular her current research explores the notion of the "malleable body" under biomedical paradigms and practices. Her writing has been published in several academic journals such as Hypatia, Literature and Medicine and Human Technology. She is currently completing a monograph titled The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped Body (Lexington Books, forthcoming 2014).
To listen to the podcast, please click here.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 | 18:15
Recovering the Birth of Independency at Trinity College Dublin Library: Puritanism and Liberty in the Seventeenth Century

A lecture by Dr Polly Ha (University of East Anglia & TLRH Visiting Research Fellow)
Abstract: This lecture will explore how the Puritans, zealous Protestant activists in early modern Britain and Ireland suspected of political sedition, from their marginal position shaped modern thinking on religious independence. The lecture is based on unpublished manuscripts in the Trinity College Library which are revealing an entirely new trajectory for the development of Puritanism and its influence on independence as a key concept of modern identity. The manuscripts themselves represent the 'hidden' archive of Walter Travers, the second Provost of Trinity College Dublin and a leading Elizabethan Puritan ideologue, and provide access to underground debates among Puritans following their suppression by the English crown. They enable new insight into the transformation of Puritan identity well before the revolutionary circumstances of the seventeenth century. For these clandestine debates reveal the birth of radical claims to religious independence several decades before the concept was supposed to have existed.
Bio: Polly Ha is currently a Lecturer in Early Modern British History at the University of East Anglia.  She studied history at Yale University and the University of Cambridge and is the author of English Presbyterianism, 1590-1640 (Stanford University Press) and co-editor with Patrick Collinson of The Reception of European Reformation in Britain (Oxford University Press). 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014 | 18:15
The Transformative Self: Narrating Growth at the Margins of Personhood

A lecture by Prof Jack Bauer (University of Dayton)
Abstract: Two prototypical stories of self-improvement place the self perpetually at the margins of society. In the story of upward mobility, one lives within the margins, which are deemed never good enough (regardless of one’s socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, etc.), so that one tries to escape marginality. In the story of personal growth, which is epitomized in the Bildungsroman genre of literature, one seeks the margins so that one may break from social conventions and cultivate eudaimonic characteristics like self-actualization, wisdom, and compassion. The person who identifies with stories of personal growth has what Prof Bauer calls a “transformative self.” The transformative self leads the person to identify with an increasingly wider range of others and increasingly fuller notions of personhood. Despite such promise, the specter of a sophomoric cosmopolitanism, which reflects a stage along the path of eudaimonic identity development, can relegate the story of personal growth to being yet another source of oppression. Beyond that stage, the transformative self transcends conventional notions of marginality not by minimizing but rather by accounting for their contextual realities within the tapestry of personhood.
Bio: Jack Bauer is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Dayton. His research examines how people use narratives to construct meaning in their lives and how these narratives foster eudaimonia, or human flourishing, over the course of life-span development. He is taking an increasingly interdisciplinary approach (philosophy, sociology, neuroscience, world religions, etc.) to studying eudaimonic questions such as "What is a good life, and how do we foster it?" Dr. Bauer is an associate editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Research in Personality, and is the co-editor of the book Transcending Self-Interest: Psychological Explorations of the Quiet Ego (2008).

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 | 18:15
Travel, Identity and Transformation in the Renaissance

A lecture by Prof Daniel Carey (NUIG)
Abstract: The huge expansion of travel in the period from 1500-1700 brought rival religious and cultural traditions in contact across the globe. This lecture explores the transformative impact of these events on identity in the context of colonial expansion, trade, and diplomacy, looking at travel experience and reflection on it by major figures from Shakespeare and Montaigne to Spenser and Bacon.
Bio: Daniel Carey is a graduate of McGill University, Trinity College Dublin, and Oxford  University where he took his D.Phil. His book on Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson: Contesting Diversity in the Enlightenment and Beyond appeared with Cambridge University Press in 2006, and he is currently completing a cultural history of travel in the Renaissance for Columbia University Press. He has published in a range of interdisciplinary journals on literature, the history of philosophy, history of science, anthropology, and travel. His teaching interests include Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, the eighteenth century, and Romanticism.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014, 6.15pm
Troubling Tourism: Negotiating Class, Gender and Sexuality in Argentine Tango

A lecture by Dr Maria Törnqvist (University of Uppsala)
Abstract: Today, an increasing number of people from all over the world travel to Buenos Aires to dance tango. To accommodate these intimate voyagers, tourist agencies offer travel packages, including classes in tango instruction, dance shoe shopping, and special city maps pointing out the tango clubs in town. Based on a cheek-to-cheek ethnography of intimate life in the tango clubs of Buenos Aires, this lecture will provide an exploration of tango — its sentiments and symbolic orders — as well as a critical investigation of the effects of globalization on intimate economies. Throughout the talk, Dr Törnqvist will assess how, in an explosive economic and political context, people’s emotional lives intermingle with a tourism industry that has formed at the intersection of close embrace dances and dollars. Bringing economies of intimacy center stage, the lecture wishes to detect a global condition that is lived bodily, emotionally and politically. The micro-power-plays of the tango clubs involve negotiating the lines between economic and emotional vulnerability, while holding up a mirror to larger conflicts of social class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality.
Bio: Maria Törnqvist is Associate Professor in Sociology at the Department of Education, Uppsala University, Sweden. Her research and teaching interests mainly cover gender studies, cultural sociology of the body and more recently sociology of education. Besides work on Swedish gender politics she has published a teaching book in feminist theory and is the author of Tourism and the Globalization of Emotions. The Intimate Economy of Tango (Routledge 2013).

To listen to the podcast, please click here.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 | 18:15 
Ordinary Palestinians’ in the ‘City of David’: Tourism as a Battleground of Identity in Israel/Palestine

A lecture by Dr David Landy (TCD)
Abstract: This lecture will investigate contested tourist discourses around the site of Silwan in Jerusalem.  By examining how the tourist narratives of a specific contested site in Jerusalem represent both the site and the tourists themselves, the paper examines how tourism can serve to provide a discourse of disempowerment and even negation to those living in the destination country. Specifically the paper interrogates the power dynamics inherent in how 'international' activists and tourists relate to 'local' Palestinians.
The tourist site under investigation is narrated on the one hand as being ‘Silwan’, an ordinary East Jerusalem Palestinian neighbourhood under threat of destruction by an Israeli government intent on expelling non-Jews from Jerusalem. On the other hand, the site is narrated as ‘the historic City of David’ where excavations will prove the extent of the historic Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. How it is narrated depends on whether the tour of the area is organised by tourist and Zionist groups or by Palestine solidarity groups.
The lecture will draw on interviews, documentary analysis and participant observation of such tours. While on Zionist tours, the existence of Palestinians is effaced in their effort to portray Israel as the centre of diaspora Jewish existence, on the solidarity tours the presence of Palestinians is highlighted. However, it is open to question whether these Palestinians are accorded an equivocal status, that of ‘ordinary’ and ‘local’ figures, in contrast to the imagined figure of the transnational solidarity activist who, deriving their identity from the contrast, is then empowered to represent these ordinary local Palestinians.
Bio: David Landy is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin. His main research interests are in transnational social movements, solidarity, and race and ethnicity. He is the author of "Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel'(2011).

 

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