Pasts Without History – Programme

We have a great two-day symposium planned for next Tuesday adn Wednesday. programme is below. Everyone is welcome – see here for more details about the papers. Email Claire or Mark for more information 

Pasts Without History: Politics and the Practical Past

21-22 June 2016

 Tuesday 21 June 2016

 Room: Senior Common Room

10.00-10.15     Refreshments and Introduction

10.15-11.00     Bernard Regan, Kiri Tunks – Beyond the Wall

11.00-11.45     Martin Davies – History: the technocratic management of an artificial world

 11.45-12.00     Break

12.00-12.45     Vicky Iglikowski – Putting Files on Film

12.45-1.00       Round-up Discussion

1.00-1.45         Lunch

Room: G5

1.45-2.30         Jelena Juresa – Moving Image and Memory: tackling identity questions through music

2.30-3.15         Paul Antick – Three Places I Never Went To When I Was Alive

3.15-3.30         Break                        

3.30-4.15         Amy Roberts – Interference Archive

4.15-4.45         Round-up Discussion

6.15                 Meet at Reception for meal at a local restaurant

 

 

Wednesday 22 June 2016

 Room: Senior Common Room

9.30-10.15       Gisele Iecker de Almeida – Where to now? The future in the present (with a stopover in the past)

10.15-11.00     Jean Debney – The ‘Presented(ed)’-ness of the Before Now

11.00-11.15     Break

11.15-12.00     Joe Iosbaker – Putting Israel on Trial in a U.S. Court: the case of Rasmea Odeh

12.00-12.45     Pete Kyle – After the War

12.45-1.30       Lunch

1.30-2.15         Helen Bendon – Spatialising History

2.15-3.00         Jim Kosem – Reading, Writing, Design, Life and History

3.00-3.15         Break

3.15-4.00         Phoenix – Archives of Resistance

4.00-4.30         Round-up Discussion

End of Conference

 

 

Pasts Without History: Politics and the Practical Past

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The Centre for the Philosophy of History will host a two-day symposium in June.

Pasts without History: politics and the practical past

21-22nd June 2016

The symposium will explore how past narratives are used outside of a strictly academic context: in museums, community archives, on Facebook, by artists, novelists and activists. The aim is to decenter elite or sedimented forms of historicisation, to consider alternative narrations of our pasts and how these can and are used to interrogate our presents and imagine better futures. What is at stake is not just a matter of sharing authority over the past, but in some circumstances wresting it back from dominant interests who exclude voices, perspectives and narratives from the field of historical knowledge. Our aim is to show that non-institutional, vernacular ways of producing ‘truths’ about the past can be a good starting point for discussions of what to do in the present – and one that is based on more inclusive understandings of whose voices count in the debate. Participants include artists, activists, curators, novelists and archivists.

For more information, details on speakers please see here.

Everyone is welcome

Review of Aesthetics, Postmodernism and the ‘Before Now’ symposium

On Tuesday 1st July the Centre for the Philosophy of History at St Mary’s University hosted a symposium on Aesthetics, Postmodernism and the ‘Before Now’ in conjunction with colleagues from the Philosophies of History network based at Leeds University. The event was well attended by students and academics from different disciplines, and the seven speakers presented papers on an interesting range of topics. Alun Munslow (Prof. Research Fellow at St Mary’s University) started the day off with a paper on Irreality and the Aesthetics of Historying in which he applied Goodman’s five ways of ‘worldmaking’ to the subject of irreality and the fictive in the context of historical narratives. aesthetics-postmodernism-symposium-26

Following Alun was Jouni-Matti Kuukkannen from the University of Oulu, Finland. His paper focused on the objectivity-subjectivity dichotomy. He provided a brief overview of the history of objectivity and main literature in the field before arguing that he preferred to think of objectivity and subjectivity in terms of a sliding scale or axis between the two positions. Narratives occupy different places on the scale and for Jouni-Matti, more creative texts (including innovative histories) are found towards the subjective end of the scale. Following the two panels there was a lively discussion. Lance Pettitt suggested that it might be helpful to think of a third concept, that of collectivity or the authorized perspective in addition to that of subjectivity and objectivity. Keith responded to the idea that objectivity might be equated with neutrality by asking why anyone would ever write a history that was not in their interests, that did not reflect their perspective? Mike Phelan commented that he was persuaded by the arguments of Keith Jenkins and Alun Munslow and then asked, this being the case, why he should continue with his PhD and how he could incorporate their critiques of the traditional epistemologies employed by historians, into his thesis?aesthetics-postmodernism-symposium-17

The next speaker was Paul Antick (Photographer, Artist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Roehampton). After providing some background information on the British massacre of 24 Chinese-Malay rubber plantation workers near Batang Kali in 1848 he read a section of a draft from his new project on the massacre. His very innovative documentary-fiction or ‘historying’ project centres on the activities of a fictional amateur anthropologist named Willing and a photographer called Smith who go to Malaysia to visit Batang Kali, and record narratives of the event. His work addressed questions of the authority of eyewitnesses, the status of story tellers, the way narratives are structured and how we deal with plural stories. It also challenged the conventions and expectations surrounding academic history papers and provided an example of an alternative type of theoretically aware, self-reflexive history. The final paper before lunch was by Helena Hammond (Senior Lecturer in Dance at the University of Roehampton). Her paper began with an extract from Alexander Sokurov’s film Russian Ark and then explored how the power of the film as a politicized vehicle for the performance of history rests on the aesthetics of its ‘total art work’ vectors fusing visual art, music, dance and dialogue.

Javier López Alós (Lecturer at the University of Leeds) began the afternoon session with a paper on Goya’s ‘Disaster of War’ series of paintings that illustrates aspects of the Peninsular War (1808-1814). He argued that in some ways these paintings act as a forerunner of photojournalism, and that their power derives not from their documentary character, but from the moral message they convey. Adi Efal (Researcher at the University of Cologne) then gave a paper exploring how the concept of ‘habitude’ could be employed with regard to the past. The questions after this session centered on whether historians should take risks with their narrations of the past or whether prudence and a conservative attitude is more useful. Alun Munslow asked why anyone would want to write a history without taking a risk and also asked whether we should worry about getting things wrong. Keith raised the problem of other minds in the context of historical knowledge and suggested that this is why historians’ representations always fail.aesthetics-postmodernism-symposium-05

Kalle Pihlainen (Academy of Finland Research Fellow at Åbo Akademi University and Adjunct Professor of Historical Theory at the University of Turku) ended the day with a paper that brought Hayden White’s narrative constructivist ideas into dialogue with Kenneth Goldsmith’s notion of uncreative writing. Specifically he thought that uncreative writing could help historians break free from the logic of re-creation/recreation – historical narratives as a means representing people or events; and historical representations as a form of entertainment, just another part of consumer culture. For example, if historians simply listed items and presented materials without consciously seeking a narrative or meaning then the responsibility for creating meaning would be placed on the readers who would therefore become aware that there are always significant stories that require acknowledgement outside of their own subjective readings.aesthetics-postmodernism-symposium-21

The day was very enjoyable and provided a good opportunity for affiliates of the centre to meet with some of the organizer of the Philosophies of History network. There was lots of animated discussion and cake. For the record the cakes were: coffee and walnut, a chocolate-digestive refrigerator cake; and ginger and sultana oat cookies. We hope to organize future events in collaboration with our colleagues from Philosophies of History in the near future.

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