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Monday, November 26, 2012

Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium with Professor Nancy Luxon

Professor Nancy Luxon will be presenting a chapter from her new book, "Breaking the Frame, Composing the Event," as part of the Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium Series. The talk will be held on Friday November 30th from 1:30-3:30pm in the Lippincott Room (Social Sciences Tower 1314).

This chapter concludes a book manuscript that pairs Freud's account of the clinical dynamics of psychoanalysis alongside Foucault's reading of the ancient practices of fearless speech (parrhesia). In its entirety, the manuscript argues that these two accounts offer different models for the educative process of self-cultivation, the personal relationships of authority that sustain it, and the modes of subjectivity that ensue. Having worked through the dynamics within these texts, this final chapter theorizes the movement from text to world. Theorists of subject-formation often move quickly past transitions from self-cultivation to political practice, or from rhetorical to political strategy. Moving these metaphoric competencies from text to world, however, is a different enterprise than exploring the play of signs in a text. In addition to the challenges of scale and scope, such strategies would need to consider those structures - but especially the influence of political elites and the media - that mediate political engagement. In the next section I will evaluate the steps that Freud and Foucault have already taken to move a certain set of "metaphoric competences" from textual exegesis to politics. Initially, their efforts evoke the substitution or "abuse of words" powerfully evoked in Nietzsche's catachresis. Although authorship could be conceived as an ability to appeal to figurations of some sort - through playful irony, metaphors, or images - on their own, these ultimately are insufficient to move from text to world, or from reading to authoring. Instead, I want to slow down and consider a few instances in which rhetorical strategies become over-stretched, before outlining ways these strategies might be further refined and adapted for politics. To do so, I will turn to literary theories of "breaking the frame," to consider those interpretive frames that compose political events and lines of action. My concern here is less to propose a theory of frame-breaking than to initiate a discussion of its techniques, applications, and effects.
Click here for complete abstract and chapter seven, Chapter Seven.pdf