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Biomedicine in museums

Emerging life paradigm in the humanities

The Department of Comparative Literature at Cornell University is organising a potentially interesting meeting about “Logics of the living”, 12-14 October, 2007.

The purpose of the meeting is to address the phenomenon of an emerging ‘life paradigm’ which is gradually replacing the ‘linguistic turn’ that informed theoretical inquiry in the humanities in the last decades of the 20th century. As the organisers say, “crucial questions of literature, philosophy and politics are increasingly formulated in terms of ‘life’ rather than language”:

Extending across disciplines, whether medical, environmental, juridical, philosophical, anthropological, or biological, an open-ended concept of “life” has also come to inform critical thinking in the humanities. How does an emerging life paradigm in the humanities reflect or lead to the development of various “logics of the living” through which “life” becomes an organizing principle or system, whether aesthetic, conceptual, or social? How do these “logics of the living,” as metaphors, actualities, ethical foundations, or theoretical frameworks, come to inform the work of cultural criticism? We invite varied responses to these questions, as well as further reflections on how the question of “life” is ordered, represented, repressed, celebrated, idealized or domesticated in the humanities today.

Keynote speaker is Daniel Heller-Roazen, Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, author of, among other works, Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language (2005), and The Inner Touch: Archaeology of a Sensation (forthcoming, June 2007) which investigates the sense of being sentient. He has also (and this is probably the connection with the conference theme) translated several of Giorgio Agamben’s works into English.

(cover of The Inner Touch)

The deadline for submission of 250-word paper abstracts for 20-minute presentations is May 10, 2007 (see further

The organisers provide the following list of possible topics (which, frankly, looks pretty unorganised to me):

  • Autoimmunity
  • Future of life: finitude
  • Afterlife (trauma, haunting, survival)
  • Second Life and second death
  • Creation, procreation, creature
  • Birth (control), and labor
  • Reproduction, replication, proliferation
  • Evolution, adaptation, hybridity, competition, survival, desire
  • Vitalism
  • Engenderment
  • Life and sexuality
  • Autopoesis
  • Life and artifice
  • Aesthetic forms of the living
  • Autobiography
  • Biographics: narrative, memory, biography
  • Humanisms and post/anti-humanisms
  • Animal lives
  • Bestiaries
  • Hagiographies
  • Life and materiality
  • Bare life and biopolitics
  • Body Politic: corporation/incorporation
  • Rights of the living
  • Politics of life/death
  • Life and being: Bio-ontology
  • Touching: auto-affection, hetero-affection
  • Rhythms of life
  • Everyday life
  • Life of objects
  • Commodification of life: stem-cells, human tissue, organ trafficking
  • Genetics, genomics, body and code
  • Organicity
  • Systems, ecologies, interdependencies.
Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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