You might think, and some days it’s true, that the BABEL Working Group runs on Manhattan cocktails, WD-40, ramen, loose change, the kindness of strangers, old Talking Heads albums, matches, a glitter ball, chewing gum, and a few guitars. Indeed, without institutional or foundational funding, but with a lot of elbow grease in the wee hours of the night, the BABEL Working Group has, since 2004, worked very hard to: 1) develop new co-disciplinary, nomadic, and convivial confraternities between the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and the fine arts (both within and beyond the academy), 2) to build shelters for humanist and post/humanist vagabonds, 3) to foster a politics of friendship both within and beyond the University, and 4) to create new spaces for para-academic alliances (such as our biennial conference, our symposia series, but also our press punctum books and or new sound label punctum records).But the fact of the matter is, we cannot keep doing everything we have been doing, not to mention continue to build even more new spaces and events and projects and platforms, without some sort of regular fund-raising campaign, which we’ve decided to undertake beginning this year, in both spring and fall of each year. It’s important to us that we never charge membership dues [although many people have urged us to do just that], because as idealistic and foolish as it might sound, I’ve always envisioned BABEL as an attempt to put theory into practice — more specifically, to see if it’s possible to build and sustain something like Deleuze and Guattari’s “desiring-assemblage,” which of its very nature must have propensities, trajectories, flows [and also breaks in the flows], attachments, detachments, reattachments, agglomerations, itineraries, ETC. that cannot be predicted in advance nor managed bureaucratically nor controlled. As such, all manner of persons must be invited to jump on, and also jump off, with no impediments to their movements in and out of the spaces we are creating to foster new modes and experimental forms of creative intellectual work. We don’t want officers. We don’t want Robert’s Rules. We don’t want dues. Consider, also, that without any of that — and again, without any institutional support [although some, like GW-MEMSI have generously helped fund our biennial meeting and social events] — we’ve managed to do the following: Read more
In the Flesh (Holly Crocker [University of South Carolina])
Melting Flesh, Living Words (Jay Zysk [University of South Florida])
The Temporal Excesses of Dead Flesh (Cynthia Turner Camp [University of Georgia])
Carnival in The Merchant of Venice (Jonathan Goldberg [Emory University])
The Curious Pleasures of the Heroic Corpse (Kathryn Schwarz [Vanderbilt University])
Scattered Remains and Paper Bodies: Margaret Cavendish and the Siege of Colchester (Frances E. Dolan [University of California, Davis])
Fleshing out the text: The Transcendent Manuscript in the Digital Age (Elaine Treharne [Stanford University])
Spirited Flesh: The Animation and Hybridization of Flesh in the Early Modern Imaginary (Emily L. King [Vanderbilt University])
Hi Mho Jhi Kudd: Thomas Stephens’s Translated Flesh, or, Coconuts in Goa (Jonathan Gil Harris [Ashoka University])
- “Exegetical History: Nazis at the Round Table” — Martin Shichtman and Laurie Finke
- “Modern and Genuine Medievalism: Guido Kisch’s Romance with the German Middle Ages” — Mitchell B. Hart
- “Defending the West: Cultural Racism and Pan-Europeanism on the Far-Right” — Daniel Wollenberg
- “Remarks on the Name Jew and Universal” — Jean-Claude Milner, trans. Robert S. Kawashima
- “The History of an Incorrect Term: Agamben, Etymology, and the Medieval History of the Holocaust” — Heather Blurton
- “One or Several Jews? The Jewish Massed Body in Old Norse Literature” — Richard Cole
- “Response: Ethics and the Voices of the Past” — Fred Evans
MediaCommons is a community network for scholars, students, and practitioners in media studies, promoting exploration of new forms of publishing within the field. MediaCommons was founded with the support of the Institute for the Future of the Book, and with assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through this network, we hope to refocus scholarship in the field on the communication and discussion of new ideas in the field. . . . Our hope is that the interpenetration of these different forms of discourse will not simply shift the locus of publishing from print to screen, but will actually transform what it means to “publish,” allowing the author, the publisher, and the reader all to make the process of such discourse just as visible as its product. In so doing, new communities will be able to get involved in academic discourse, and new processes and products will emerge, leading to new forms of digital scholarship and pedagogy.
Cluster Edited by Daniel Lukes
CLUSTER EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION
Comparative Neomedievalisms: A Little Bit Medieval (Daniel Lukes [Indiana University])
Don Quixote and the Remembrance of Things Medieval (Donald D. Palmer [College of Marin and North Carolina State University])
The New Knighthood: Terrorism and the Medieval (Daniel Wollenberg [Binghamton University, SUNY])
Neomedievalisms and the Modern Subject in T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral (Krystya Michael [Graduate Center, CUNY])
Neomedievalist Feminist Dystopia (Daniel Lukes [Indiana University])
Boundless Restraint: Performance, Reparation, and the Daily Practice of Death in the Life of Daniel the Stylite (Jonah Westerman [Graduate Center, CUNY])
Confessions and the Creation of the Will: A Weird Tale (Matthew Bryan Gillis [University of Tennessee])
Heurodis Speaks (Robyn Cadwallader [Flinders University])
BOOK REVIEW ESSAY
Towards a Premodern Affective Turn (Glenn Burger [Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY])
As was noted by Arnold Van Gennep, one of the first anthropologists of the edge, “the attributes of liminality are necessarily ambiguous since [they] elude or slip through the network of classifications that normally locate states and positions in cultural space.”
~from Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art
Eileen Joy, Myra Seaman, and Holly Crocker are thrilled to announce that it is time once again for the Biennial Michael Camille Essay prize, jointly sponsored by postmedieval, Palgrave Macmillan, and the BABEL Working Group.
The prize is named after Michael Camille (1958-2002), the brilliant art historian whose work on medieval art exemplified playfulness, a felicitous interdisciplinary reach, a restless imagination, and a passion to bring the medieval and modern into vibrant, dialogic encounter. In addition, we wish to honor Camille for his attention to the fringes of medieval society — to the liminal, the excluded, the ‘subjugated rabble,’ and the disenfranchised, and to the socially subversive powers of medieval artists who worked on and in the margins. The prize is also named after Camille because his work was often invested in exploring ‘the prism of modernity through which the Middle Ages is constructed’ and because, as his colleague at the University of Chicago Linda Seidel said shortly after his death, he had ‘a mind like shooting stars.’
Submissions will be judged by a panel of scholars selected from postmedieval’s Editorial Board, and the winner will be announced at the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, to be held October 16-18 at University of California, Santa Barbara. Please send submissions, to include a cover page with all contact information — name, affiliation(s), mailing address, email address(es), title of submission, and with no identifying information on essay itself (formatted in Word and following Chicago Manual, author-date format with endnotes + list of references at end) — to the editors at [email protected] If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact Eileen Joy at [email protected]
An Interstellar Raft of the Medusa: Critical/Liberal/Arts 2 @CUNY
by EILEEN JOY
It’s been almost two months since some of us (well, many of us, actually, since we numbered close to 100)gathered at The Graduate Center, CUNY for the second installment of the BABEL Working Group’s bi-coastal symposia series, Critical/Liberal/Arts, the first of which happened at UC-Irvine this past April. The proceedings from both events will be published in a special issue of postmedieval, edited by the series organizers, Myra Seaman, Allan Mitchell, and Julie Orlemanski, in 2015, but in the meantime we are fortunate that one of the NYC’s event’s contributors, AW Strouse, has offered a review and summary of the day at the online journal Hortulus, HERE, and I now also have audio files to share, for those who could not be there, but would like to join in some of the fun of the embodied performances — by Henry Turner, the Hollow Earth Society (Wythe Marschall + Ethan Gould), Eleanor Johnson, Ammiel Alcalay, Bruce Holsinger, AW Strouse, Eirik Steinhoff, Jamie “Skye” Bianco, Michael Witmore, and Marina Zurkow + Una Chaudhuri — that resulted from this prompt:
We hazard that many of the categories used to distinguish modes of knowledge production are in practice overlapping or entwined: distance and involvement; criticism and aestheticism; sensation and reflection; detachment and attachment; interrogation and incorporation; interpretive qualification and quantified data; analysis and speculation; control and loss of control before the objects of our study. A survey of the humanities and social sciences at present turns up projects that transcend traditional rubrics and do not remain in their respective fields at all — but rather, cross out of academia and continue on to other planes of social practice. These projects represent serious commitments to tinkering, mapping, constructing, organizing, blogging, protesting, ornamenting, fantasizing, digitizing, occupying, and more. We invite accounts of practices from inside and outside of the university that might be counted among the new arts of critique, or new modes of critical creation.
Presenters have been encouraged to avoid post-critical hype and anti-critique retrenchment. Polarizing these issues has helped generate powerful critiques-of-critique as well as strong defenses of traditional critical frameworks (such as Marxism, feminism, queer studies, race studies, postcolonial studies, post-structuralism, and the like). But we are interested in exploring theories and practices beyond the polemic. To wit: What are the new scenes or spaces of critical invention? What different faces might critique have? What does it feel like? What does it do? How does historical consciousness play a role in generating new forms, tools, or ideas? What does it mean to be “uncritical”? Is there an erotic hermeneutics, pace Sontag, or an eros of critique? How do we engage criticism and art and techne against the actuarial interests of the corporate university? Can we “afford” to nurture speculative creation, or pure science, in an age of austerity? Do delight, rapture, or the drift of daydreams have a role in criticism? Is there value in maintaining what separates the injunctions to critique and to create? How might our practices cross-pollinate the sciences and the fine arts? Or politics and aesthetics? Or the future and the past? Read more
I was very lucky to be invited recently by George Washington University — more specifically, GW’s new Digital Humanities Institute [Alex Huang], GW’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute [Jeffrey Cohen], and the Gelman Library [Geneva Henry and Karim Boughida] — to give a talk on the state(s) and future(s) of open-access publishing, and in order to make this talk more accessible, I am sharing it here [in augmented form]!
A Time for Radical Hope: Freedom, Responsibility, Publishing, and Building New Publics
Professional Challenges. Amateur Solutions.
~The Bruce High Quality Foundation
For what may we hope? Kant put this question in the first-person singular along with two others — What can I know? What ought I to do? — that he thought essentially marked the human condition. With two centuries of philosophical reflection, it seems that these questions are best transposed to the first-person plural. And with that same hindsight, rather than attempt an a priori inquiry, I would like to consider hope as it might arise at one of the limits of human existence [such as the collapse of an entire culture]. . . . What makes hope [in the face of such a collapse] radical is that it is directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is. Radical hope anticipates a good for which those who have the hope as yet lack the appropriate concepts with which to understand it.
~Jonathan Lear, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devestation
The Bruce High Quality Foundation is an anonymous collective and unaccredited art school, formed in 2004 by graduates of Cooper Union art school in New York City, who wanted to “foster an alternative to everything,” especially in New York City’s rarefied art world. Bruce High Quality is their whimsically invented figure-head: a sculptor who supposedly perished, along with all of his works, in the 9/11 attacks, and whose memory and legacy the collective seeks to maintain. One of their first interventions, or acts of institutional critique, happened in 2005 when the Whitney Museum wanted to honor the legacy of the illustrator Robert Smithson by constructing an actual “floating island” based on one of his drawings, “Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan Island.” The constructed island, complete with living trees, was pulled by a tugboat around New York Harbor. The Bruce High Quality Foundation responded to the event with their own performance, titled“The Gate: Not the Idea of the Thing but the Thing Itself,” in which members of the collective pursued the Smithson island in a small skiff carrying a model of one of the orange gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude that had been displayed in Central Park earlier that year. In 2007, they donned football gear and “tackled” public sculptures. They also produced a film in 2008 in which zombies take over the Guggenheim, and the Bruce High Quality Foundation fights them with the actual art collections (for example, decapitating the zombies with Brancusi sculptures while the art critics hide and cower in the museum’s cafeteria). In 2010, and despite the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s efforts to remain anonymous and iconoclastic, they were included in theWhitney’s 2010 Biennale. We’ll call this the “coming full circle” narrative, from inside the institution (Cooper Union) to its radical Outside and then back in again (the Whitney). Read more
Myra Seaman, Holly Crocker and I are thrilled to announce that postmedieval is launching today our second online, open Crowd Review, of Louise D’Arcens’ special issue on “Comic Medievalisms,” which features the following essays: