Aesthetics, Postmodernism and the ‘before now’

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Aesthetics, Postmodernism and the ‘before now’

One-day symposium on 1st July 2014

St. Mary’s University

Senior Common Room

Organisers: Claire Norton and Mark Donnelly The Centre for the Philosophy of History (St Mary’s University), and Michael J. Kelly Philosophies of History (University of Leeds)

Generously funded by the School of Arts and Humanities at St Mary’s University

Is historiography akin to (theories of) objectivity or closer to subjectivist expression? What happens if we assume that while there well may have been an ‘extra-textual’ past reality, history is always an ‘intra-textual,’ imagined and fictive enterprise? While accepting a narrativist philosophy of history requires acknowledging the irreality of historying, it also legitimises a multiplicity of possible experimental forms that could be deployed to engage with the time before now: surreal, Dadaist, altereality, uncreative, documentary-fiction historying? Is it fair to argue that the more innovative and original a historian desires to be the more subjective her output will be, whereas in contrast, the less she is willing to say, the more objective her result will be? Has postmodernism, in its rejection of universality and foundational truths, provided history aesthetically and functionally with a more radical or emancipatory platform than its objectivity-centred Modernist predecessor? Or have postmodernist aesthetics simply reinforced the status quo and thus marginalized alternative ways of engaging with our pasts?

Papers given by philosophers, historians, and artists at the one-day symposium Aesthetics, Postmodernism and the ‘before now’ will consider such questions as these. Responding to narrativist theories of history, developments in contemporary literary theory, and experimental forms of narrating or performing pasts in the visual arts they will explore the aesthetic possibilities for history writing in theory and in practice.

The symposium will take place in the Senior Common Room at St Mary’s Strawberry Hill campus. The symposium is free and everyone is welcome. For more information about the event and to book a place, please contact Claire Norton on claire.norton@smuc.ac.uk or Mark Donnelly on mark.donnelly@smuc.ac.uk.

Programme:

9.15am – 9.40am Register
9.40am – 9.50am Welcome
9.50am – 11.10am Panel 1: Chair – Mark Donnelly
Alun MunslowIrreality and the Aesthetics of Historying
Jouni-Matti KuukkanenHistoriography between subjectivity and objectivity
11.10am – 11.25am Refreshment break
11.25am – 12.45am Panel 2: Chair – Claire Norton
Paul AntickSmith @ Batang Kali: Letter B to Cohen.
Helena HammondDancing in the museum: Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark (2002) and the politics and poetics of the aesthetics of the St Petersburg total art work as historical representation
12.45pm – 1.30pm Lunch
1.30pm – 2.50pm Panel 3: Chair – Michael Kelly
Adi EfalHabitude and archaeology
Javier López AlósRhetoric, Representation and Apocalypse: The Peninsular War as Religious War
2.50pm – 3.10pm Refreshment break
3.10pm – 4.30pm Panel 4: Chair – Helena Hammond
Kalle PihlainenHistory as uncreative writing
Robert DoranHayden White and the Practical Past
4.30pm Closing remarks

For more information contact Claire claire.norton@smuc.ac.uk or Mark
mark.donnelly@smuc.ac.uk

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