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The Disappearance of Emotion? Violence, Affect, and the Post-Traumatic Subject

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Date: Thursday 6 June 2013
Time: 6-7pm
Venue: Elisabeth Murdoch Building, The University of Melbourne
Keynote: Professor Ruth Leys, Johns Hopkins University

An assessment of the latest twists in affect theory today. Among the questions to be posed are: If the 20th-century was the Freudian century, the century of libido, will the 21st century - as has been suggested - be the century of the “post-traumatic” subject, whose affective indifference and profound emotional disengagement from the world mark him or her as a victim of brain damage?

Will political, economic, and natural violence now take the form of a meaningless traumatic shock to the “emotional brain,” depriving victims of all meaning and all affect”? What are the stakes and the implications of such claims?” Professor Leys will invite questions on her arguments and also, if desired, on the significance of the recent turn to affect and emotions for historical and humanities research.

Ruth Leys is a professor of humanities, with a joint appointment in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Throughout her area she has been interested in different aspects of the history of the life sciences, especially the neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. She has critically examined the history of the modern concept of psychic trauma from its origins the work of Freund to recent discussions boy Shoshana Felman, Cathy Caruth and others (Trauma: A Genealogy). She has explored the post-World War II vicissitudes of the concept of "survivor-guilt" ant its recent displacement by notions of shame, focusing on the recent contributions to shame theory by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Giorgio Agamben, and others (From Guilt to Shame: Auschwitz and After) She is presently working on a book on the post war history of experimental an theoretical approaches to the study of emotions, with a special emphasis on the philosophical issues at stake in the competing cognitivist and neo-Darwinian paradigms of the emotions.

This public lecture is supported by the School of Culture and Communication.

Admission is free, but as space is limited, RSVPs are required.
To register, visit: http://alumni.online.unimelb.edu.au/ruthleys