The Lionel Trilling Seminar

Humorlessness/Politics

Monday, March 6, 2017

This paper addresses humorlessness as ontology, performance, and affect; and as threat and aspiration. It asks how the encounter with humorlessness structures the political scene and style of encounter, and it looks at how unlearning attachment to some styles of it without repairing its force have been modeled aesthetically as performance. Its cases range from the League of Revolutionary Black Workers' documentary, *Finally Got the News* (1970) to some contemporary political art of Steve McQueen, William Pope.L, and Claire Pentecost. The talk is humorless, among other things. This is a first foray into a new project.

Horst Bredekamp presents the next installment of the Lionel Trilling Seminar. 

Robert Alter presents the next installment of the Lionel Trilling Seminar.  The David story and Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma, the first narrative very early and the other relatively late in the Western literary tradition, are deeply instructive instances of how the vehicle of fiction can provide insights into the realm of politics.

  • Katharine Park, Samuel Zemurray, Jr. and Doris Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
  • Joel Kaye, Professor of History, Barnard College
  • Pamela H. Smith, Seth Low Professor of History, Columbia University

Thomas Laqueur’s important book, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (1990), is almost twenty-five years old, and his governing narrative, that the late eighteenth century saw a shift from a “one-sex” to a “two-sex” body in Western society, has gained broad acceptance among modern historians and scholars in literary and cultural studies. At the same time, it has come under increasing attack by historians of ancient, medieval, and early modern law and medicine. “Rethinking the ‘One-Sex’ Body” brings together this new research to ask if Laqueur is wrong, and, if so, how he’s wrong and what difference it makes.

Toril Moi, James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies and Professor of English, Philosophy, and Theater Studies at Duke University, will give the spring 2014 Lionel Trilling Lecture.      

Through a re-consideration of several classic instances, this lecture explores some of the ways in which the very excesses of polemical or satirical contributions to public debate may themselves be the main bearer of more adequate conceptions of human life.

Darryl Pinckney on “Intellectual Women”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Fall 2012 Lionel Trilling Seminar will feature Darryl Pinckney on "Intellectual Women."

The Spring 2012 Lionel Trilling Seminar will feature Morris Dickstein, Distinguished Professor of English and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Humanities, CUNY Graduate Center, and author, most recently, of Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression (2009).

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