Go to the U of M home page


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CSCL Colloquium Event

the department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature is hosting a colloquium event on place, race, and historical imagination in close readings of literature and sculpture on Friday April 24, 2:30. Room 35, Nicholson Hall.

Bad Infinity (Brendan McGillicuddy)
Bad Infinity uses the motif of perpetual travel and movement - voyages both external and internal - as a basis for the comparative exploration of two texts distant in time and space: Thomas de Quincey's Diary of an Opium Eater (1821) and Roberto Bolaño's 2666 (2004.) The organization of geographic structures within this text is used a basis to put into relief themes of trauma and addiction, of gendered violence, of capital and power, and of racial fantasy as they are inscribed within two very different historical imaginaries.   Rather than tracing a linear path of influence, this piece of experimental criticism imagines these two texts in dialogue, each in turn asked to expand and elaborate on the themes of its counterpart.
The Repeating Toussaint (Courtney Gildersleeve)
In 2005, the Republic of Haiti presented a bust of revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture to the city of Bordeaux, once France’s second largest slave-trading port, and a city recognized by UNESCO for its history of humanist and enlightenment thought. Following the sculpture’s unveiling, a blog called “Invisible Bordeaux†suggested that the sculpture could play a role in “helping Bordeaux come to terms with its slave trade past.†My paper examines the stakes of this claim, while taking the statement as a provocation. Through a reading of C.L.R. James’ characterization of Toussaint in The Black Jacobins: Toussaint Louverture and the San Domingo Revolution, I attempt a close reading of the sculpture, remarking on how it operates deictically, on the significance of its placement within the city of Bordeaux, and on the various elements of the city’s history that this sculpture calls forth, while also trying to problematize the often metonymic function that Toussaint occupies in discussions of the Haitian Revolution. While I attempt to draw out what I see as salient elements of Toussaint’s revolutionary and enlightenment commitments, I also try to open up other potential frameworks through which Toussaintâ€"who continues to reappear, even today, in many sites across the Atlanticâ€"might be remembered and reconsidered.