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International Conference: Desire/Knowledge

Council Room Strand Campus
18 (09:00) - 20/05/2017 (12:00)
Ziad Elmarsafy

DesireKnowledge 2

The pairing of desire and knowledge has been a core structuring principle for contemporary theory and literary criticism, from René Girard and Michel Foucault to gender studies, queer studies, and theories of mind. The conference “Desire/Knowledge” has two aims, one diachronic and the other synchronic: first, to consider how this particular pair of ideas has been represented from the classical period to the present day; second, to examine the role this conceptual couple has played in some of the major currents of contemporary thought. This conference is configured as a collaboration between three world-leading institutions: King’ s College London, the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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Confirmed Speakers:

Keynote speaker: Vincent Descombes, Professor, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and Visiting Professor Emeritus of Social Thought, University of Chicago. His highly influential work on the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of literature includes Modern French Philosophy (1980); Objects of All Sorts: A Philosophical Grammar (1988); Proust: Philosophy of the Novel (1992); The Barometer of Modern Reason: On the Philosophy of Current Events (1993); The Mind’s Provisions: A Critique of Cognitivism (2001); Les Institutions du sens (1996); Le Complément de sujet (2004).

Second Keynote: Anne C. Vila, Professor of French, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Publications include Enlightenment and Pathology: Sensibility in the Literature and Medicine of Eighteenth-Century France (1998), A Cultural History of the Senses in the Age of Enlightenment, 1650-1800, ed. (2014). She is completing a book manuscript Singular Beings: Passions and Pathologies of the Scholar in France, 1720-1840 (for U Penn Press), co-editing, with R. Chalmin, a critical reedition of Tissot’s De la santé des gens de lettres (for Editions Garnier); and, with F. Vatan, a special issue of L’Esprit créateur on “Literature, Science, and the Life of the Mind in France, 1700-1900.”


Other Participants

David F. Bell, Professor, Department of Romance Languages, Duke University. Bell’s publications include Circumstances: Chance in the Literary Text (1993); Joyful Cruelty: Towards a Philosophy of the Real (1993), Hermes: Literature, Philosophy, Science , co-edited with Josué V. Harari (1993) and many articles on nineteenth-century French literature and culture; critical theory; literature and science; literature and technology.

Ronan Chalmin, Senior Lecturer in French, Connecticut College. He is the author of Lumières et corruption (2010) and articles on authors and topics ranging from Molière to the French and Haitian Revolutions.  He is co-editing, with A. Vila, a critical edition of Tissot’s De la santé des gens de lettres (1768, forthcoming Editions Garnier), and writing a monograph on Gracchus Babeuf, entitled Lire Babeuf. La création littéraire d’un écrivain révolutionnaire.

Daniel Desormeaux, Professor of French, University of Chicago. Selected publications: Alexandre Dumas, fabrique d’immortalité (2014); Mémoires du Général Toussaint Louverture, (A Critical Edition, (2011). La Figure du bibliomane: histoire du livre et stratégie littéraire au XIXème siècle (2001).  He is completing a collection of essays on contemporary French Caribbean novelists and a critical edition of F. Marcelin’s novel Thémistocle Épaminondas Labasterre (1901).

Jane Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Late 20th and 21st Century Literary and Cultural Studies, King’s College London. Selected publications: Genres of Neoliberalism, co-ed. (2013); Suffering Agency: Imagining Neoliberal Personhood in North American and Britain (2013); Theory after ‘Theory’, co-ed. (2011); Popular Feminist Fiction as American Allegory: Representing National Time (2008). Her research focuses on three main areas: post-1945 fiction, contemporary theory, and the novel during and after postmodernism.

Ziad Elmarsafy, Professor of Comparative Literature, Head of Department, King’s College, London.  Selected publications: Sufism in the Contemporary Arabic Novel (2012); Debating Orientalism,co-ed. (2013); What Postcolonial Theory Doesn’t Say, co-ed. (2015). He has published in a number of areas, including the literature and culture of early modern France, the Enlightenment and modern Arabic literature.

Patrick ffrench, Professor of French Language and Literature, King’s College London. Selected publications: Jean-Louis Schefer; The Body of the Image (2013); Proust and the Analysis of Gesture (2013); After Bataille: Sacrifice, Exposure, Community (2007). His expertise takes up residence in 20th-century French literature and thought.

Sebastian Franklin, Lecturer in Contemporary Literature, King’s College London. Selected publication: Control: Digitality as Cultural Logic (2015). His fields of research include: contemporary literature and visual media, media theory and history, digital culture, critical theory and economic theory and practice.

Sacha Golob, Lecturer in Philosophy, King’s College London and the Director of the Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts. Selected publications include Heidegger on Concepts, Freedom, and Normativity (Cambridge University Press, 2014); ‘Subjectivity, Reflection and Freedom in Later Foucault’ (International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 2014) and ‘The ‘Thing’ in Georges Bataille and Martin Heidegger’ (Comparative Critical Studies, 2016). He is currently working on a book on conceptions of transformation in post-Kantian thought.

Marc Gotlieb, Director of the Graduate Program in Art History and Professor of Art, Williams College.  He is the author of The Plight of Emulation: Ernest Meissonier and French Salon Painting, and essays on French Romantic art, the image of the artist, and Orientalist painting. He is past Editor-in-chief of Art Bulletin and is working on a book on “the Orientalist Sublime.”

Kathryn Hoffmann, Professor of French, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Publications include Society of Pleasures: Interdisciplinary Readings in Pleasure and Power during the Reign of Louis XIV (1997) and the English translation of J. Stengers and A. Van Neck, Masturbation: History of a Great Terror (2001).

Nanette LeCoat, Associate Professor of French, Trinity University. Her publications include “L’Institutionnalisation de l’histoire à l’Ecole normale: Les Leçons d’histoire de Volney” (2007); and “The Virtuous ‘Passion’: The Politics of Pity in Staël’s De l’influence des passions” (2013).

Michael Randall, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Brandeis University. He has published The Gargantuan Polity: On the Individual and the Community in Renaissance France (2008), Building Resemblance: Analogical Imagery in the Early French Renaissance (1996). and articles on subjects related to late medieval and Renaissance culture in France.

Stephen Schwartz, Senior Lecturer in French, University College Dublin. Stephen Schwartz is translator of Vincent Descombes’ Philosophie par gros temps (The Barometer of Reason); La Denrée mentale (The Mind’s Provisions); Les Institutions du sens (The Institutions of Meaning) and Embarras d’identité (Puzzling Identities).

Malina Stefanovska, Professor of French, University of California-Los Angeles. Publications include Littérature et politique: factions et dissidences de la Ligue à la Fronde (2015), co-ed.;  Self and Space in Early Modern European Cultures, ed. (2012); La Politique du cardinal de Retz: Factions et Passions (2008); and Saint-Simon, un historien dans les marges (1998).

Soraya Tlatli, Associate Professor of French, University of California-Berkeley. Her research interests are in Francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial historiography, 20th-century French psychoanalysis, philosophy, and intellectual history. Publications include “Les ruines de l’Algérie chez Kateb Yacine” (2006), La Folie Lyrique: essai sur le surréalisme et la psychiatrie (2004), and Le Psychiatre et ses poètes: essai sur le jeune Lacan (2000).

Michael Winston, Associate Professor of French, University of Oklahoma. Publications include From Perfectibility to Perversion: Meliorism in Eighteent-Century France (2005), He is currently preparing a manuscript on the 18th-century philosopher and ethnographer Cornelius de Pauw’s research on the Americas.

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