FIRST READING GROUP MEETING (W/ SUSAN BUCK-MORSS VIA VIDEO-CONFERENCE)

The CLIFF organizing committee will be holding its first of 3 pre-conference reading groups on Monday, January 26th from 4:00-6:00pm. We are extremely grateful to Professor Susan Buck-Morss, who has generously agreed to join us via video-conference for this meeting and the subsequent two meetings leading up to our conference in March. As of right now, the location for this first meeting will be the Comparative Literature Department Library (2015 Tisch Hall). PARTICIPANTS BE ADVISED: if, for any reason, the venue changes, we will post updates here. Please check this website regularly to make sure you are up to date. This event is open to graduate students and faculty. All participants are expected to complete the reading before the event begins.

For the first meeting, we will be reading Susan Buck-Morss’s Thinking Past Terror: Islamism & Critical Theory on the Left. Participants are, of course, encouraged to read this collection of essays in its entirety; however, given time constraints, we ask that all participants read the following:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 (“A Global Public Sphere?”)
  • Chapter 2 (“Critical Theory and Islamism”)
  • Chapter 5 (“Can There Be A Global Left?”)
  • Along with this, we will also have an additional (but optional ) reading: Professor Buck-Morss’s essay/talk “A Commonist Ethics,” which she presented at Verso’s 2011″The Idea of Communism 2″ conference in New York. We feel that this piece will be a much-needed injunction to consider our role as viewers of the spectacle, as participants in a “global public sphere,” as defenders of the common. This talk has been published in Verso’s volume of the same name: http://www.versobooks.com/books/1169-the-idea-of-communism-2. It can also be found on Susan Buck-Morss’s website: http://susanbuckmorss.info/text/commonist-ethics/

The circumstances of this gathering, of course, extend far beyond our preparation for the March conference. The fatal Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris on January 7th (and the largely overlooked, widespread massacres in Nigeria by Boko Haram) have provoked self-righteous and reductive responses from media sources, world leaders, protestors, etc. that resonate alarmingly with the same discourses and power relations addressed by Professor Buck-Morss in Thinking Past Terror 12 years ago. These events have also charged new and existing countercurrents of critical discourse from intellectuals, dissidents, radicals, and others across the globe–countercurrents that put into focus the immanent demands made on and by the Left in the “global public sphere.” This will be the context in which we revisit and discuss Thinking Past Terror and “A Commonist Ethics” on January 26th, and we strongly urge participants to share articles, clips, thoughts, etc. dealing with these current events on the comments section.

NOTE: IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND OUR READING GROUP MEETING, PLEASE EMAIL US AT leftoversumich@gmail.com TO LET US KNOW THAT YOU WILL BE ATTENDING. This will help us make adjustments for space, seating, etc.

We hope to see you all on January 26th.

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