Review of Week 8 (by Phillip Grimshaw)
Monday, we took our midterm exam during the class period.
Wednesday, we began by discussing the upcoming guest lecture, with Jeffrey Cohen, and the presentation he will be giving on October 20, at 7:00 PM, which will include free food. Later on, we began our class discussion by talking about the Julian Yates essay “Towards a Theory of Agentic Drift,” which we briefly started by discussing the context of the event that is discussed — 1597 in post-reformation London. Therefore, we see that the subjects are being imprisoned for their beliefs.
The first main topic that we covered, in the essay, was Yates’s concept of “agentic drift” and it is described as: a way of distributing agency, in which we participate, so it is not a property we own. On page 49, we discussed the story where Descartes, tries to burn the house with the rats inside of it, but they keep coming back. However, he realizes that he can’t really burn the rats, because he will burn he house. Therefore, our attention is turned to the whole assemblage, since you cannot get rid of it, because it changes the whole thing (distributive agency). In essence, we were discussing how the Descartes concept of building a closed system is a fantasy, and Serres see the interruptions as “hospitable” to random occurrences or events.
Next we discussed how “ontology collapses, hospitality reigns,” which is to say subject-oriented ontology collapses, that is human-centered ontology. In other words, he is talking about an eventful what if —-excluding controlling and making, which is to say, we are taking away he control and predictability that humans strive for.
Moreover, we connected the jailer’s fondness for oranges with Bennett’s “Edible Matter” chapter and saw how the jailer, Bonner, is a hybrid, which is to say, what we consider the most characteristic qualities of the human are actually parasitic. Ultimately, we came to the idea of mediation and an understanding of agency.
The next section we discussed was Bruno Latour’s part one of Reassembling he Social, which we said was Latour’s defense of a sociology of association and not the social. we talked about how Latour claims that “wonder” is what makes the social sciences, and he points to key areas of investigation, as to what the world is made up of.
“I want to think without an error”
“ontology collapses, hospitality reins.”
“he, in other words, whose tastes, whose desires or needs, whose physiology pre-disposes him to the fruit… Bonner (like all of the players in this event) is, in Latour’s terms, a hybrid”
“His liking, this chance desire or bodily need that we might consider an unmarked sign of his humanity, is really a thing lodged within the zone of the human.”
Like all sciences, sociology begins with wonder. The commotion might be registered in many different ways but it’s always the paradoxical presence of something at once invisible yet tangible…” Page 21.
Agentic Drift: “A way of distributing agency, in which we participate. Not a property we own. “
Closed System: A system that is free from interferences and any forces out of human control.
Mediation: “an understanding of agency which might factor the non-human not as bearer of social forces or as mute witness but as a dynamic player in what we have been taught to read as human drama.”
Hybrid: In terms of the jailer: “– a name, a legal identity subject to laws and to punishment, a corporate representative”
Preview of Week 9 (by Dr. Seaman)
Monday we will all happily celebrate Fall Break.
Wednesday we will be visited by Jeffrey Cohen. He asked that you all prepare some reading before class. These are two lais by Marie that are on our schedule for later in the semester, so it means you’ll have less to read later. But it means you should prepare the following for Wednesday:
Please also take a look at this blog post, from In the Middle, a collaborative medieval blog that Jeffrey started years ago. This post concerns the graduate course he taught last semester, on which I generally based our course, and a reading of Sir Cleges. You’ve done quite a lot with Cleges yourselves, so I thought it would be useful for you to be exposed to that reading before he comes to class Wednesday.
Thursday at 7pm is his public talk, on “Feeling Stone,” which I hope as many of you as can will attend. (We discussed some extra credit options, which we can pursue further later, after Jeffrey’s visit.) The flyer for the event has been posted to the course blog.
Jeffrey has also recently posted to In the Middle a draft of his introduction to a forthcoming book, an edited collection on object-oriented approaches to medieval and early modern (and contemporary) literature and culture. You might like to take a look at that, as well, but that would be a bonus reading for you.