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2014-2015 Seminar: Totality

Disciplines across the humanities and social sciences are experiencing a turn towards paradigms of the whole. Those paradigms—globe, world, planet, empire, system, and network, to name a few—ask us to imagine totality rather than particularity, whole instead of part. Within different fields, this development goes by many names, takes various forms, and has emerged at uneven rates, but it is everywhere freighted with ethical and political urgency. This seminar aims to historicize that urgency as well as the key terms with which it has been articulated. We will consider why this kind of thinking and imagining has seemed so important today. The interdisciplinary format of the seminar will allow us to explore how and why frameworks for totality have emerged in each field, and how that emergence has followed separate as well as overlapping paths. We will be interested to explore the prehistory for the terms we have—as well as new paradigms that may just now be emerging. Paradigms of totality are being used to organize knowledge, calibrate social relations, imagine communities, and calculate geographies. We seek to bring together a broad spectrum of humanists and social scientists who are using, inventing, and thinking about these and other models of the whole.

Directors: Rebecca Walkowitz (English) and David Kurnick (English)
Faculty Fellows: Mukti Mangharam (English), Carter Mathes (English), Genese Marie Sodikoff (Sociology and Anthropology), Judith Surkis (History), Nükhet Varlik (History)
Predoctoral Fellows: Mark Bray (History), F. Dilara Demir (Sociology), Noah Eber-Schmid (Political Science), Matthew John Phillips (English), Anel Velázquez (Women’s and Gender Studies), Mimi Winick (English)
Postdoctoral Fellows: Matthew Baxter (Political Science, Berkeley), Andrew Moisey (Film and Media, Berkeley)
Affiliated Scholars: Ala Alryyes (Comparative Literature, Yale), Amit Yahav (English, U. of Haifa)
Mellon Fellow: Avram Alpert (English, U. of Pennsylvania)

 

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