Medieval Culture and Postmodern Legacies (Continuation)
A workshop on the subject of the legacy of the Middle Ages as it has been defined and redefined in the late twentieth and early twenty first century. This legacy may seem to be benign, as for instance, in the widespread popular impact of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It may be troublesome or ambiguous, as, for instance, in the use of medieval passion plays in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. But this legacy may also have a unstable political valence, as for instance, the condemnation of Islamic societies as “medieval” in terms of their legal systems and gender restrictions, or the location of the origin of particular forms of patriotism in “medieval” histories, such as the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, which still forms part of the symbolism of division and separatism in the Balkans. At the same time, many of the discourses that are implicated (either to defend or to critique ) in this complex reinvention of history have themselves been turned towards the study of the Middle Ages, revealing a set of synchronic dialogues as well as diachronic developments. That is, in addition to the new importance accorded to the signs and symbols of medieval culture, a culture which almost by definition precedes the modern period, we will also be investigating the degree to which the Middle Ages themselves engage in the production of modernities, both in terms of what French Annales historians call the longue duree and in terms of the awareness of difference by medieval subjects, experiences and works themselves. The almost automatic association of the Middle Ages with war, violence and struggle, and the birth of European (read White, Christian) identity, that is, will be disaggregated and analyzed in the workshops for 2006-07.
Transnational Networks in World Historical Perspective
Participating faculty and staff:
Participating graduate students:
This project focuses on the patterns and nature of transnational linkages and connections in comparative and world historical perspective. Humanists and social scientists are increasing making global networks and transnational practices the focus of study. Transnational migration, cybernetic connections, the consequences of international travel patterns, the links among the world’s largest firms, the formation of stronger elites ties (interlocking directorates, etc) and transnational ties among popular organizations – all these are important for comprehending the contemporary global political economy and global culture.
The Global 19th Century
This workshop year seeks to be the foundation for an ongoing Global Nineteenth-Century group at UCR. It hopes to form an intellectual community of those whose primary research interests lie within the historical boundaries of the nineteenth-century, but who recognize that even then “globalization” was a fact of life. Second, emphasizes the cultural and intellectual connections among texts and events of the period we study. It also brings together a variety of scholars to campus to demonstrate some of the ways we can begin to do increasingly thorough analyses of the cultures we study. Finally, the group is a testing ground for the work of those on campus who are interested in nineteenth-century studies; that is, as a place where they can get feedback not only from those in their own discipline but from those who have different sets of analytical tools and theoretical assumptions.
Affect, Technicity, Ethics
This group will study recent developments in the field of new media art and public expression as they relate to human affect and ethics. In an earlier moment of digital convergence in the 1980s, commentators from Hubert Dreyfus to Donna Haraway, in very different ways, emphasized the embodied or situated aspects of our apperception, interpretation, and use of digital instruments and artifacts. While subsequent work on corporeality, media, and expression in the 1990s productively revised theories of performativity in ways relevant to digital media, and while scholars like Mark Hansen usefully continue to emphasize “embodied experience,” a contemporary scholarly discussion on digital media, technological innovation, and expression must connect three key areas of research: affect, technics, and ethics.
Free(style) Theater Project
Principal Workshop Participants:
The “Free(style) Theater Project” is a workshop that brings together practitioner/theorists from several performance departments (Music, Dance, Theater, Creative writing) to explore emergent intermedia and improvisative practices in theatrical performance. Recent trends toward interdisciplinarity in the performing arts have on the one hand resulted from the merging of sound and image facilitated by digital technology and on the other from the growing number of artists and communities adapting and transforming the arts to envoice communities long absent from the stage. The emergent field of immersive media theater performance, for example, sees digital image projection and immersive digital environments literally sharing the stage with live actors, to create theatrical works which reflect the growing ubiquity of “screen” images and the polyvocality that they necessitate. Musicians and composers, such as Meredith Monk, are using digital technologies to create performance works that combine music, movement and spoken word in integrated performances that, in their emphasis on narrative (however fragmented), represent emergent forms of theater. Visual artists, such as Catherine Sullivan, use costumed actors performing fragmented dialogue (or untexted emotional expression) as the raw materials for video works and installations. Hip hop artists combine digital audio, turntabling and rhymed dialogue to create theater works that reflect the diversity of urban artistic production and represent new voices on the stage.