Two CMRS-CEGS Research Seminars for Winter 2023    

Published: November 15, 2022

These seminars are open to graduate students from any department. Enroll in the usual manner.

“Early Modern Empire and the Cultures of Encounter” (English 246), Thursday 12:00–2:50 pm, Kaplan A60, Professor Barbara Fuchs.

This interdisciplinary seminar considers theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary questions. We will read together a corpus of historiographic and literary texts (Columbus, More, Poma, Behn), and host visits from specialists at UCLA and beyond in a range of related disciplines (History/History of Science/History of Art/ Classics). How have various fields negotiatied the specificities of the European encounter with the New Word vs. larger questions of indigeneity and sovereignty around the globe? How has recent work on empire in a global context impacted the various fields? How do scholars in these fields move between the specificities of the local and the broader theorization of culture in imperial contexts? All readings available in English.

“Historicity. Re-reading Michel Foucault” (Political Science 218),  Professor Giulia Sissa (Political Science, Comparative Literature, and Classics), 11:00 am -1:50 pm, Kaufman Hall 153.

This seminar is concerned with the most historical works of Michel Foucault, with a focus on the History of Sexuality (1976; 1984; 2018). The reception of Foucault’s thought, especially among younger scholars in the United States, tends to prioritize the normative notion of “biopolitics”. The writings of Roberto Esposito and Giorgio Agamben have strongly encouraged this trend. We will reexamine Foucault’s very idea that knowledge must be situated historically. In the Archaeology of Knowledge (1969), we learn that neither social determinations nor intellectual history can offer viable models of understanding this fundamental historicity. But what is exactly the method we are invited to experiment with, by reading the multiple “Histories” Foucault himself has written? How does his last History, that of Sexuality, allow us to rethink such challenging questions as the relations of ancients, pre-moderns and moderns, the value of trans-cultural notions, the priority of philosophy in the discursive practices of a culture, the authority of visual and literary fiction, the significance of an “apparatus”, of an “experience”, of a form of “isomorphism”, of “subjection / subjectivation”, “passivity” /“activity”? And, finally, in light of Foucault’s complex — and changing — way of thinking historically, what is the true relevance of power in his account of discursive practices?  A deep engagement with the texts will also open up critical questions about the contemporary emergence of novel lines of thought in the historical study of sexuality, such as: the queer reconsideration of genders; the senses, sensuality, and the phenomenological language of the “lived body”, understood as transformative embodiment.