Forms of Survival and the Politics of Vulnerability / Totality and Interiority

Rei Terada is a professor in the Comparative Literature Department at UC-Irvine. Her book Feeling in Theory was the recipient of the 2001 René Wellek Prize of the Comparative Literature Association. In her most recent book-length work, entitled Looking Away, Terada revisits debates about appearance and reality in order to make a startling claim: that the purpose of such debates is to police feelings of dissatisfaction with the given world. Focusing on romantic and post-romantic thought after Kant, Terada argues that acceptance of the world “as is” is coerced by canonical epistemology and aesthetics. In guilty evasions of this coercion, post-Kantian thinkers cultivate fleeting, aberrant appearances, perceptual experiences that do not present themselves as facts to be accepted and therefore become images of freedom. This “phenomenophilia,” she suggests, informs romanticism and subsequent philosophical thought with a nascent queer theory. Recently, Terada has also written about free speech and student protest, ruined life, the French revolution, and looking at the stars forever.

Readings for the meeting include:

David Harvey, Social Justice and the City (1973), pp. 288-294 (through end of first paragraph on 294)

Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), pp. 439 (from part IV on)-444

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (2000), sections on 354-361

Alberto Toscano and Jeff Kinkle, “Baltimore as World and Representation: Cognitive Mapping and Capitalism in The Wire”

Daniel Drumright, “The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term Extinction” (2013):

The irreconcilable acceptance of near-term extinction

John Michael Greer, “The Next Ten Billion Years” (2013)

Forms of Survival & the Politics of Vulnerability is a semester-long workshop that attempts to re-think the notion of survival, which, though often associated with centuries-old evolutionary theory, has become central to contemporary political thought. The workshop is developed and led by Michelle Ty (PhD candidate English, Designated Emphasis Critical Theory).