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The Hermeneutics of Violence Workshop

Welcome to The Hermeneutics of Violence Workshop on Wednesday 28 August (Hovi/Artium, Kaivokatu 12, University of Turku)! Participation is free, please register for coffee by 22 August: https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/nos_hs_workshop_participant.

The Hermeneutics of Violence Workshop

This workshop is part of a larger project entitled Interpreting Violence: Narrative, Ethics and Hermeneutics, funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS, https://site.uit.no/violence/). The project begins with the assumption that the representation of violence in literature, film, history and journalism is an inherently ethical issue because it invites readers or viewers to imagine someone else´s pain. A story may encourage a reader/viewer to place herself in the position of victim, perpetrator, witness or rescuer. She may imagine the events narrated in the manner invited by the text or in a resistant fashion, but by engaging a depiction of violence at all, she deems it a pleasant or ethically worthwhile use of time and thought. The project investigates this phenomenon in two workshops. The first workshop, ”The Joys of Violence” was held at Uppsala University September 19-21 2018.

”The Hermeneutics of Violence” is the second workshop, to be held at Turku University August 27-29 2019 (https://selmacentre.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/). It will focus on the hermeneutics of violence, implying both the violent annulment of personhood sometimes inherent in interpretive acts themselves and the processes of interpreting narratives representing violence. In ”Violence and Metaphysics”, Jacques Derrida proposed that language itself violently arrests fluid meaning making. In part, this claim was a response to Emmanuel Levinas’s claim that we are, fundamentally, bound in networks of responsibility to known and unknown others whose vulnerability bids us not to commit violence. Some scholars still contend that the attribution and modification involved in naming or categorizing the other always involves violence, but this claim reads differently in the context of violence against the body. By foregrounding the tension between philosophical violence and embodied violence as well as their complex entanglements, scholars contributing to this workshop will explore the relationship between these different forms of violence. Is narrative, like other forms of language, inherently violent? Can stories direct our attention to that within the human that evades designation but nevertheless calls for protection? Is violence constitutive of subjectivity and intersubjectivity and, if yes, how should we conceptualize this? Is there non-violent interpretation and how should we theorize this possibility? Scholars will discuss phenomenological-hermeneutic and other contemporary conceptualizations of knowledge that escape naming and that call for new reconfigurations of intersubjectivity to address these questions in new ways.

The workshop will be structured around presentations of 20 minutes and subsequent discussion. It will bring together scholars in film studies, literature, psychology, history and philosophy. Presentations should be appropriate to an interdisciplinary audience.

Workshop Schedule

(Tuesday and Thursday only for invited speakers, Wednesday open for everyone)

Wednesday 28 August, Hovi, Artium V105 (Kaivokatu 12)

9.30-11.00: Theorizing Violence

  • Reading Violence, Violent Reading, Colin Davis, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Violence and Palimpsestic Hermeneutics, Max Silverman, Professor of French, University of Leeds
  • The Hermeneutics of Darkness: Interpreting Perpetrators on their Crimes, Brian Schiff, Professor of Psychology, and Director of the George and Irina Schaffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights, and Conflict Prevention at the American University of Paris
  • 11.00-11.30: Coffee

    11.30-13.00: Violence and the Suffering Body

  • Do We Really Care? On the Violence Suffered by the Perpetrators in Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones (2007), Helena Duffy, TIAS Collegium Researcher, University of Turku, and Teaching Fellow of French and Comparative Literature, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Linguistic and Bodily Violence in Sarah Kofman’s Heterobiographical Writing, Victoria Fareld, Associate Professor of Intellectual History, Stockholm
  • Disgrace: Coming to the Terms with the Meaning/s of Sexual Violation, Louise du Toit, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Stellenbosch
  • 13.00-14.00: Lunch

    14.00-15.30: Reading and Interpreting Violence

  • Violence in Twenty-First-Century Historical Fiction, Cassandra Falke, Professor of English Literature, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway
  • Violence Particular, Violence Universal, Violence Absent, Violence Present: King Lear, Robert Appelbaum, Professor Emeritus in English Literature, Uppsala University
  • Interpreting Violence in Charlotte Salomon’s Leben? Oder Theater?: A Material/ Embodied Hermeneutics? Marta Cenedese, Postdoctoral Researcher of Literature, University of Turku
  • 15.30-16.00: Coffee

    16.00-17.00: Interpreting Violence: Narrative, Ethics and Hermeneutics (roundtable): Hanna Meretoja (chair), Molly Andrews, Colin Davis, Cassandra Falke, Brian Schiff

    18.45: Dinner Cruise in the Archipelago (Ukko-Pekka, Loistokari). Meeting at the pier for the archipelago trip on S/S Ukkopekka (Address: Linnankatu 38, at the bridge Martinsilta, in front of the restaurant Vaakahuone)