We are delighted to invite you to our SSHM Seminar with leading intellectual historian, Professor Ruth Leys (Department of History, Johns Hopkins University). Prof. Leys will present her latest work on “Violence, Affect, and the Post-Traumatic Subject”.
The seminar will take place on Tuesday 13 May from 17.00 – 18.30 in S-1.04, Lecture Theatre (King’s College London, Strand Building, Strand Campus). The talk will last 45 mins, followed by 45 mins of Q&A.
Professor Ruth Leys is Henry Wiesenfeld Professor of Humanities (Department of History) and Director of Graduate Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Throughout her career she has been interested in different aspects of the history of the life sciences, especially the neurosciences, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. She has analysed the early history of the reflex concept (From Sympathy to Reflex: Marshall and His Critics), and edited the correspondence between two of the leading figures in twentieth-century American psychiatry and psychology, Adolf Meyer and Edward Bradford Titchener (Defining American Psychology: The Correspondence Between Adolf Meyer and Edward Bradford Titchener). She has critically examined the history of the modern concept of psychic trauma from Freud to Cathy Caruth, and others (Trauma: A Genealogy). She has explored the post-World War II vicissitudes of the concept of “survivor guilt” and its recent displacement by notions of shame in the shame theory of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick,Giorgio Agamben, and others (From Guilt to Shame: Auschwitz and After).
Abstract: Prof. Leys will offer an assessment of the latest twists in the ‘turn to affect’ in the humanities and social sciences. 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 disengagement with 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’ thereby depriving victims of all affect and meaning? What are the stakes and implications of such claims? The talk will draw on material being prepared for her forthcoming book on the post-war history of experimental and theoretical approaches to the study of the emotions, with a special emphasis on the philosophical issues at stake in the competing cognitivist and neo-Darwinian paradigms of the emotions. The book builds on her critique of the ‘affect turn’ in the humanities and social sciences which continues to create heated debate.
This event is sponsored by the CMP Research Group
More information about our SSHM Seminar Series can be found here.