Gabriel Giorgi | The Form of the Improper: Clarice Lispector and the Rhetoric of Precarity

30.2 Precarious Work Precarious Life

Abstract

In her novel The Hour of the Star, from 1977, Brazilian author Clarice Lispector transformed the cultural figurations of poverty that shaped modern Brazilian cultures since the 1930s. In doing so, she opened the possibility for the emergence of a new figure: that of the precarious, thus anticipating aesthetic forms that will model Latin American cultural imaginaries in the decades to come. Two coordinates define this new figuration of precarity: proximity and non-anthropocentrism. Precarity thus emerges as a new organization of the sensible that, far from a mere rhetoric of expropriation, demarcates a terrain of contestation and ambivalence.

December 20th, 2017

Jago Morrison | Terrorism, Precarity, Security: 9/11 Revisited

30.2 Precarious Work Precarious Life

Abstract

This essay re-examines 9/11 through the twin lenses of security and precarity. As Judith Butler writes, Americans experienced “something like the loss of their First Worldism” in 2001 (Precarious Life 39). What followed – a profound reconfiguration of the security paradigm – was coupled with an unprecedented wave of anti-intellectualism. In this essay, I examine Don DeLillo’s Falling Man (2007), as a response to that national crisis of confidence. Centred on the idea of bare life – encapsulated by the image of a body in free fall – the novel strips back the dominant affects of national affront and retributive violence, in which, as Giorgio Agamben argues, terrorism and security reinforce each other in an escalating cycle, showing how a different mode of mourning and survival might begin in the rubble of the towers. For Butler, the urgent and difficult task underscored by 9/11 is that of imagining a new basis for community on the ground of our shared vulnerability. Falling Man begins that work, showing us 9/11 afresh, as a revelation of collective precarity.

December 20th, 2017

Monica Jansen | Precarity on Stage: the Creative and Political Dimensions of Affect in Ceresoli’s Theatre Production La Merda

30.2 Precarious Work Precarious Life

Abstract

The theatre monologue The Shit / La Merda won several prizes. This play on humiliation and anger can be linked to precarity in various ways. Firstly, the woman’s narrative on her proximate television audition reveals how socioeconomic precarity in Italy conditions young people and females in particular. The play unravels the fallacy of post-feminist emancipation. Secondly, the piece also exemplifies Italian mobility and the “trans-national.” Thirdly, the female’s “subjectivation” to the neoliberal logic is not only a humiliating experience but also a potential for resistance. It cannot be thought separately from the “cruel optimism” of the good-life fantasy. Finally, affect also functions as cultural activism within the context of Teatro Valle Occupato.

December 20th, 2017

Sieglinde Lemke | Precarious Art and the Aesthetics of the Precarious Gaze

30.2 Precarious Work Precarious Life

Abstract

Precarious art refers to depictions of the economically underprivileged which invite the assumed non- or not-yet-precarious onlooker to face the other of class. In looking at these images, the privileged are forced to acknowledge the suffering of the underrepresented. Precarious art thus does what moral philosophers have urged us to do: it pleads for an emphatic and affective involvement in the suffering of others. The resulting gaze, however, always risks turning into voyeurism. This article explores the dilemma of voyeurism by delineating the concept of the “precarious gaze,” a class-based viewing structure that unsettles the onlooker by disturbing, albeit momentarily, his or her sense of sovereignty. By closely analyzing Tom Stone’s photographs of homeless people, which trigger a precarious gaze, this article contributes to contemporary political critiques of precarity and tries to bridge the gap between the visual arts and the sociopolitical and economic order that has produced mass precarity in the first place.

December 20th, 2017

Lara Garcia Diaz and Pascal Gielen | Precarity as an Artistic Laboratory for Counter-Hegemonic Labour Organization

30.2 Precarious Work Precarious Life

Abstract

Understanding the art field as a testing ground for our current neoliberal labour condition, we argue in this article how that same terrain can also function as a battle field; a field of “agonism” where counter-hegemonic responses can be developed. It will be argued how precarity may function as a point of articulation from where those moments of insubordination can develop. It will be emphasized how the romanticization of the precariat as a class-for-itself, or the idea of precarity as a potential form of coalition in contemporary politics based on “bodies in alliance” (Butler), tends to be limited to powerful moments of insubordination that in many cases obviate the necessity to envision proper positive political projects (Lorey).

December 20th, 2017

Niels Springveld | Neoliberalism, Precarity, and Precariousness

30.2 Precarious Work Precarious Life

Abstract

The concepts of precarity and precariousness have become increasingly prominent in economic, philosophical, sociological, and activist discourse in recent decades. This article argues that the concepts allow for critiques of both economic and social injustice, and, as such, are of central importance to debates concerning the future of work, neoliberalism, and (state) violence. By synthesizing accounts of the development of neoliberalism and precarization with Judith Butler’s political ethics, this article attempts to do justice to demands for cultural and sexual equity on the one hand and economic equality on the other.

December 20th, 2017

Hannah Ackermans | From Letters to Vlog Entries: Truthfulness as a Literary Trope in Fictional Life Writing

28.1 Writing the Self

Abstract

This article proposes that the vlog adaptation is a remediation of the epistolary novel by examining the logic of immediacy. although immediacy is often approached as a mediumspecific characteristic of digital media, this article illustrates that both the epistolary novel and the vlog adaptation implement narrative characteristics of non-fictional genres to create an experience of immediacy. This experience of immediacy is taken to the next level by the vlog adaptation, in which the narrative’s serialization creates a temporal experience parallel to the viewer’s temporal experience. The truthfulness associated with life writing thus becomes a literary trope in fiction.

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August 18th, 2017

Masterclass by Sophie van den Elzen | On the Limits of Autobiography and Not Getting to Age: How Hervé Guibert did not Go Gently in À l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie and Cytomégalovirus

30.1 Ageing Lines

Abstract

This paper discusses two works by Hervé Guibert, a French author who was an influential voice in the public debates surrounding AIDS in the early 1990s. It examines how his post-diagnosis novels play with the autobiographical genre, rejecting the conception of autobiography as a monument to the aged man, a stable subject reflecting on and recasting his life as purposeful and fulfilled. Instead, Guibert highlights his lack of control or authorship over his life and confronts his own youth mainly through the antithetical way he portrays his friend and mentor, Michel Foucault, reclaiming subjectivity in a series of political texts.

August 18th, 2017

Gregory Stephens | Fathering Rescripted: The Shadow of the Son in Coetzee’s Late Fiction

30.1 Ageing Lines

Abstract

The issue of late fatherhood and the role children play in creative works of senior writers frame my discussion of representations of fathering in the late work of J.M. Coetzee. I focus on Coetzee’s allegorical treatment of fractured father-son relationships in The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus. Drawing on the literary nonfiction which I teach, and have employed to narrate my own experience of “senior fathering,” I critique the dystopian outcomes of the father-figure’s (Simón’s) compulsive self-erasure. His “blind faith” in a mother’s innate superiority represents not only the author’s reflections on his own shortcomings as a father, but his interrogation of the absence of the father in literary traditions.

August 18th, 2017

Marta Miquel-Baldellou | Disrupting Dictates of Gender and Ageing through Creativity: Daphne du Maurier’s Writing Persona in The Breaking Point

30.1 Ageing Lines

Abstract

In her collection The Breaking Point (1959), Daphne du Maurier gives rise to a series of short stories which feature ageing characters facing a critical period in their lives, that subvert traditional dictates of gender and ageing. Du Maurier identified her writing persona in this later stage of creativity as “neither girl nor boy but disembodied spirit,” thus acknowledging how traditional cultural dictates could be blurred through creativity. This article explores the matrix of ageing, gender, and creativity with respect to du Maurier’s stories “The Alibi,” “The Menace,” and “The Chamois” in order to describe her writing persona at this particular moment of creativity, especially through feminist critic Betty Friedan’s precepts in her book The Fountain of Age (1993). Friedan argues that a gender-role crossover often takes place in the years following parenthood, as men and women adopt qualities that they felt required to suppress years earlier in order to fulfil their respective culturally-assigned gender roles.

August 18th, 2017

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