Open Seminars 2023

Session 5: 04/05/2023 10:00 am CEST [Link here]

Affect and the Ideal of Invulnerability: Exploring Connections in Literary Analysis

Texts to be discussed:

  • Gilson, E. (2014). “The Ideal of Invulnerability.” The Ethics of Vulnerability. Routledge. 75-93.
  • Berlant, L. (2011). “Affect in the Present.” Cruel Optimism. Duke University Press. 1-23.

The objective of this talk is to explore the connections between invulnerability and affect in order to theoretically frame literary and cultural productions. Susana Nicolás Román’s intention when choosing these texts was to relate Laurent Berlant’s notion of “affect” with the field of vulnerability studies due to their questioning of psychosocial structures in ethics. According to Gilson, the first text builds on the understanding why culturally dominated reactions to moments of vulnerability tend to be examples of disavowal and avoidance, not attentive responses. The second text, the introduction to the famous Cruel Optimism volume, focuses on the contemporary moment from within that moment through the concept of “affect”. This discussion about the contours of the historical and ethical present filters the situations and events whose parameters might favour debate.

Session 4: 17/04/2023 10:00 am CEST [Link here]

Shame and Attention

Texts to be discussed:

  • Ahmed, Sara. “Shame Before Others.” The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge, 2004, pp.101-121
  • Citton, Eves. “Presential Attention.” The Ecology of Attention. Polity Press, 2017, pp.83-105

During this session, Ana Chapman will briefly introduce the main ideas presented in Ahmed’s chapter “Shame before Others” (2004) and Citton’s “Presential Attention” 2017). Though both texts deal with two different concepts, they have been chosen to allow a critical reflection and discussion on the connections of shame and attention in the digital realm and in shaping individual and collective identity and ideals.

Session 3: 24/03/2023 10:00 am CEST [Link here]

Vulnerability and the Poetics and Ethics of Attention

Texts to be discussed:

  • Drichel, Simone. 2013. Introduction: “Reframing Vulnerability: “so obviously the problem…”?” SubStance, issue 132, vol. 42, no. 3: 3–27. DOI: 10.1353/sub.2013.0030
  • Ganteau, Jean-Michel. 2023. “Introduction.” The Poetics and Ethics of Attention in Contemporary British Narrative, Routledge.

In this one-hour session, Cristina M. Gámez-Fernández (University of Córdoba) will comment a summary of two key theoretical texts for 20minutes and then a debate with participants will follow to discuss these ideas. The two texts under scrutiny are Simone Drichel’s introduction to a Special Issue on Vulnerability entitled “Reframing Vulnerability: ‘so obviously the problem…?’” (2013) and Jean-Michel Ganteau’s introduction to his latest book The Poetics and Ethics of Attention in Contemporary British Narrative (2023).

Session 2: 23/02/2023 10:00 am CEST [Link here]


Texts to be discussed:

  • Bennett, Alice. Contemporary Fictions of Attention. Reading and Distraction in the Twenty-Fist Century. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2018.
  • Epstein, Andrew. Attention Equals Life. The Pursuit of the Everyday in Contemporary Poetry and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

For this session, Dr. Miriam Fernández Santiago has chosen two texts developing the way that the contemporary economy of attention affects literary composition in the 21st century. After our discussion of Byung-Chul Han’s The Transparency Society and Johannessen’s The Workplace of the Future during last year’s seminars, when we explode the ethical political and sociological effects of the fourth industrial revolution in contemporary society, Dr. Fernández Santiago became acquainted with Yves Citton’s study on The Ecology of Attention (2016) where he argues the contemporary world economics is based on the trade of attention rather than the production of material goods. This is very much in line with Han’s last book Non-Things (2022) and framing the fourth industrial revolution is the historical moment where the digital information industries have gained undeniable prominence in global economy nowadays. But the two texts that Dr. Fernández Santiago has chosen for this session are more focused on literary studies and she thinks they could be of much help in our analysis of 21st century literary production. Their connection with the topic of vulnerability is very much in line with the Vulnerability Scale that Dr. Cristina Gámez and Dr. Miriam Fernández developed for the introduction of their co-edition of Representing Vulnerabilities in Contemporary Literature (2022), where they argue that there is a correlation between the topic of vulnerability and certain literary strategies and genres.

Session 1: 18/01/2023 10:00 am CEST [Link here]

Socio-ecological vulnerability and resistance in the Capitalocene

Texts to be discussed:

  • Hartley, Daniel. 2016. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene and the Problem of Culture” Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism,  ed. by Jason W. Moore. PM Press: 154-166.
  • Valencia, Sayak T. 2010. “Introducción”/”Conclusiones”Capitalismo Gore. Melusina: 15-21; 191-200.

This session, lead by Dr. Carolina Sánchez-Palencia, will address two articles regarding Capitalism as a world-ecology (Hartley) and a deathscape (Valencia) that rely on the idea of an appropriable human and non-human nature. Daniel Hartley warns about the dangers of separating Science and Culture or Capital and Nature, because it is in the assumption of these Cartesian dualities that we tend to obviate sexism or racism, which might apparently not be related to ecology but are internal conditions of the capitalist civilization expanding socio-ecological vulnerability. Moving from the Capitalocene into the more nuanced and sinister Necrocene, Sayak Valencia argues, from a transfeminist and decolonial perspective, that violence itself has become a product within hyper-consumerist neoliberal capitalism, and that the exploited bodies of sexualized and racialized subjects have become profitable commodities in certain necropolitical regimes, such as the Mexico-US border.