October 7, 2014
Professor Walter Benn Michaels, Professor of American Literature and Literature Theory, (University of Illinois at Chicago) will be the 2014-2015 Media@McGill Beaverbrook Visiting Scholar.
During his two-week residency, he will be giving a talk, "Diversité, egalité ou théâtralité? From Mallarmé and Meillassoux to Arthur Ou and Mabou," co-sponsored by the AHCS Speaker Series.
Arts West, Room W-215, 853 Sherbrooke West, McGill University
Abstract: At the center of both Modernism and any of the strong versions of the postmodern is a series of questions about the ontology of works of art and about the logic of representation -- that is about the work's relation to the world, the artist and the reader or beholder. This talk will examine the two most powerful accounts of that relation, locating each in a history of art that is at the same time a history of capital. In addition to Mallarmé and Quentin Meillassoux's recent reading of his ontological ambitions, the talk will focus on the late photographs of Robert Frank and on recent work by the New York photographer Arthur Ou.
Biography: Walter Benn Michaels specializes in American Literature and literary theory. Michaels’ work has generated a set of arguments and questions around a host of issues that are central to literary studies: problems of culture and race, identities national and personal, the difference between memory and history, disagreement and difference, and meaning and intention in interpretation. His work has been published in prestigious journals such as Critical Inquiry, the Structuralist Review, The Georgia Review, Representations, Paideuma, the San Diego Law Review and New Literary History, as well as essay collections. Michaels’ books include: The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism: American Literature at the Turn of the Century; Our America: Nativism, Modernism and Pluralism; The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History; and The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality.