This seminar explores salient themes and tropes in posthuman critical theory, reading important texts in the field in light of contemporary cultural concerns such as the impact of media on consciousness, the mechanisation of everyday life, the interpenetration of virtual and material realities, and the transformation of models of subjectivity after the digital revolution. Discussions will focus on three of the principal strands in posthuman literature: cyborg theory, new materialism, and a post-Nietzschean recalibration of humanist values. Other areas of critical study that overlap with these strands (animal studies and eco-feminism) will be considered briefly.Read more about Spotlight Theory: Posthumanism
The course looks at a number of texts that explore paranoia, not as a medical condition but as a hermeneutic approach coinciding with a modernist and postmodernist fascination with all-encompassing sign systems. The discussion will focus on the following themes: the nature of subjective experience; the power of media; the relation between fiction and reality; entropy and semiotics; hyper-reality; the ontological status of hallucinations; artificial intelligence; the viability of the novel as a contemporary narrative genre.Read more about Paranoid Hermeneutics I & II: The American Novel after the Death of the Novel
The course examines the relation between concepts of modernity and figurations of ghostly time in film, philosophy and literature. We begin with a reading of Hamlet, laying the groundwork for a study of the influence of the play on 20th Century thought. The second part focuses on works by Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce; on philosophical texts by Nietzsche, Derrida and Deleuze (especially their readings of Hamlet), and on films by Alfred Hitchcock, Chris Marker, the Coen Brothers, Terry Gilliam. Special attention will be paid to the relation between time and technology, the figure of the ghost, the theme of falsehood (the role of the simulacrum in the twentieth century representations of time), and the conventions of genre (tragic time vs comic time).
Dante’s presence in the work of various twentieth-century writers is widely acknowledged. Yet the extent to which his poetry can help us theorise a poetics of modernism remains to be explored. In this course we will try to understand why numerous modernist writers were fascinated with Dante’s Commedia. We will touch on modernist uses of Dante as a mythic model or as an intertextual source; modernist representations of the descent into the underworld; modernist revaluations of Dante’s moral universe; changing interpretations of the ethical value of emotions (Love, Joy, Pity, Terror); phantasmagoria and the image in modernism; ineffability and immemoriality.Read more about Dante and Modernism
This course explores major themes in European modernism. Class discussions focus on the following themes: the preoccupation with historicity; the mobilization of anachronistic structures and ghostly temporalities by the avant-garde; the ethics of forgetting and encyclopaedic form. Authors included in the syllabus are T. S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce and Pirandello. (Offered at the University of Perugia)Read more about European Modernism
This course explores the theme of Narcissism in the work of six Irish novelists of the late 19th and 20th Century. The story of Echo and Narcissus provides the coordinates for a reflection on the nature of images, on the triad of death, desire and unrequited love, and on the role of repetition in producing and maintaining identity. We will consider the implications of pitting a Modernist (i.e. cosmopolitan and international) notion of Self against a specifically Irish treatment of the Narcissus myth. The authors included in the syllabus are Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Flann O’Brien and John Banville.Read more about Narcissus on the Liffey: Image and Identity in the Modern Irish Novel