Modernism, Christianity and Apocalypse

in Academic Service - Archive, conference by on July 18th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

Event Date: 18-20 July 2012
Hotel Solstrand
Solstrandveien 200, Postboks 54,
5201 Os, Norway

Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse

A conference organised by the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Bergen, Norway; funded by the Bergen Research Foundation through the ‘Modernism and Christianity’ research project.

The modernist imperative ‘Make it new!’ posits a break with traditional artistic forms, but also with the entire mould of a civilization felt to be in a state of terminal decay (‘an old bitch, gone in the teeth’, as a second dictum by Ezra Pound has it). Modernism was steeped in the language of apocalyptic crisis, generating multiple (and contradic- tory) millennial visions of artistic, cultural, religious and political transformation. This conference will examine the continuing impact of Christianity upon the modernist thinking of Apocalypse in Western culture, covering the period of early-to-high modernism (c. 1880- 1945), with glances towards the immediate aftermath of World War II and the Bomb. ‘Modernism’ is not here confined to the arts, and contributions are invited from scholars across the humanities and social sciences.

The modernist crisis is often depicted as emerging ‘after’ disenchantment and secularisation. Yet contemporary assessments of Christianity varied strikingly, as modernist thinkers, artists, writers and political ideologues confronted its entrenched authority and formidable capacity for self-reinvention. Certainly, as the historian Peter J. Bowler has shown, the effort to ‘reconcile’ science and religion was in no way abandoned in early twentieth century discourse. Nor, of course, did the efforts of theologians across the confessional spectrum suddenly cease: on the contrary, theology from Karl Barth to the Nouvelle Théologie and beyond delivered penetrating responses to modernity. More radical theorists and philosophers of the modern from Nietzsche onward also grappled with Christianity, often becoming further enmeshed even while prophesying the Death of God. Indeed, whether read through Frazer’s dying gods or Freud’s paternal totems, the Christian stories stubbornly resisted easy assimilation. Repeatedly, artists and writers exploring radically new modes of religious experience might find their works subtly infiltrated by biblical or liturgical language and iconography. Christianity also garnered modernist converts: for some, the promise of cultural resurrection would converge on a return to orthodoxy following the liberal dilutions of the nineteenth century; while others freely adapted the tradition to suit their spiritual needs. Even those chary of such a step, or actively hostile to Christian faith, continued to reinvent the cultural resources and imagery of the Christian past – if only in order to overturn it in favour of a new future. The political religions of the twentieth century (Stalinism, Fascism, Nazism) promulgated their own revolutionary visions of Apocalypse and a secular Kingdom, casting Christianity as a chief antagonist, or at least as subservient to a vitalist national-political will. Nonetheless, these alternative salvation histories, too, were undeniably linked to their paradigm in the Christian tradition.

The complexities and ambiguities involved in such historical transactions are obvious: and interdisciplinary insights are essential in mapping them. Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse thus invites contributions by scholars in all relevant fields. New archival information and empirical research on this period is welcomed alongside broader theoretical and historical re-evaluations of the modernist crisis, or novel readings of central texts. A concerted effort to recover the complex interwovenness of modernism, Christianity and the apocalyptic imagination is especially urgent today, as the very idea of a ‘post-secular’ culture is being interrogated anew in a global context. Indeed, the recent Norway terror by a self-proclaimed crusader for ‘European civilization’ is a horrifying reminder that the contestation of history, and the proclamation of eschatologies, can still turn bloody.

Introduction to the conference by Dr Erik Tonning (Bergen)

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Introductory poetry reading by Kevin Ireland

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KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

Paul S. Fiddes (University of Oxford) – Versions of the Wasteland.  The Sense of an Ending in Theology and Literature in the Modern Period
AUDIO HERE

Professor Hans Ottomeyer (Former Director of the German Historical Museum) – The Reason of Nature. The New Cosmos Around 1900
AUDIO HERE

Professor Marjorie Perloff (Stanford University) – “To Change Your Life”: Wittgenstein on Christianity
AUDIO HERE

INVITED SPEAKERS:

Professor C. J. Ackerley (University of Otago) – The Nordic Vision of Malcolm Lowry’s In Ballast to the White Sea
AUDIO HERE

Professor Mary Bryden (University of Reading) – “History is done”: Thomas Merton’s Figures of Apocalypse
AUDIO HERE

Professor Gregory Maertz (St. John’s University, NY) – Nazi Modernism and the Collaboration of Christian Artists with the Hitler Regime
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Dr Malise Ruthven (Independent writer) – The Apocalyptic Social Imaginary
AUDIO HERE

Dr Finn Fordham (Royal Holloway, University of London) -  “Woill the real mdernism please stand up?” Theological modernism within  cultural  modernism
AUDIO HERE

Also recorded: a selection of panel papers:
Hedda Lingaas FossumWH Auden, Democracy, and Original Sin
AUDIO HERE

Katherine EburyIn this valley of dying stars: TS Eliot’s Apocalyptic Cosmology
AUDIO HERE

Benjamin MaddenFrom Heaven to Hell in Flames: The Auroras of Autumn and the Christian Apocalypse
AUDIO HERE

Dr Mark ByronEzra Pound’s Eriugena: Eschatology in the Periphyseon and the Cantos
AUDIO HERE

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Concluding Roundtable discussion:  Apocalypse Now? On Contemporary uses of Apocalyptic Rhetoric with Paul Fiddes, Hans Ottomeyer, Malise Ruthven, Marjorie Perloff, John Milbank and Matthew Feldman (Chair).

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Conference organisers:  Dr Erik Tonning (Bergen) and  Dr Matthew Feldman (Teesside University)

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Jules Boykoff – Celebration Capitalism: The London Olympics and Its Discontents

in Academic Service - Archive by on July 17th, 2012

Event Date: 17 July 2012
Room 532
Birkbeck Main Buliding
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street, Bloomsbury
London WC1E 7HX

The Birkbeck Institute for Social Research

presents

Celebration Capitalism: The London Olympics and Its Discontents

This talk examines ‘celebration capitalism’, the affable cousin of Naomi Klein’s ‘disaster capitalism’. First, Boykoff will explain precisely what he means by ‘celebration capitalism’ before pointing to key historical moments in its emergence. Then he’ll look at how celebration capitalism is playing out in London and how activists are responding.

Jules Boykoff is the author of Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London (Rutgers University Press, forthcoming) and The Suppression of Dissent: How the State and Mass Media Squelch USAmerican Social Movements (Routledge, 2006). His writing on the Olympics has appeared recently in New Left Review, The Guardian, The Nation, Human Geography, and elsewhere. He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Brighton’s Chelsea School of Sport. In August, he will return to Pacific University in Oregon (USA) where he is an Associate Professor of Political Science.

Introduction By Dr Paul Watt (Birkbeck).

Talk:

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Sloane’s Treasures: Texts and Transcription

in Academic Service - Archive by on July 16th, 2012

Event Date: 16 July 2012
Eliot Room 4
British Library Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB


Sloane’s Treasures – Workshop 3: Texts and Transcription

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) was a doctor who collected curiosities with a passion. Although he always hoped society would benefit, he would be astonished at the scale of the enterprise he started…

Hans Sloane was one of the great men of early eighteenth-century London, a wealthy and popular physician to high society and royalty. But it was the natural sciences, especially botany, which fired his interest.
In his long life, he amassed one of the greatest ever private collections of plants, animals, antiquities, coins and other curios. It was to be the founding core of the British Museum and later the Natural History Museum.

 

 

Programme:

Presentations on British Library’s holdings of Hans Sloane material

Presentation on Sloane’s manuscripts from Arnold Hunt, BL Curator of Historical Manuscripts

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Presentation on Sloane’s printed books from Alison Walker, BL Director of Sloane Printed Books Project

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Presentation on Sloane’s maps from Peter Barber, BL Head of Map Collections

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Presentation on Sloane’s Sir Thomas Browne notebooks and drawings from Antonia Moon, BL India Office Records

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accompanying images:

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Presentation on Sloane’s medieval manuscripts from Julian Harrison, BL Curator of Early Modern Manuscripts

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accompanying images:

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Presentation on Sloane’s oriental material from Frances Wood, BL Curator of Chinese collections

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Questions

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Breakout groups

Crowdsourcing;  Sloane’s colonial collection;  Data visualisation and mapping;  Digital humanities;  Sloane, science and medicine;  Sloane’s acquisition methods and sales catalogues;  Sloane’s printed books

AUDIO HERE

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Closing comments by Arnold Hunt, BL Curator of Historical Manuscripts

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Securitisation as a Political Strategy: Creating Insecurity, suppressing Dissent

in Academic Service - Archive by on July 11th, 2012

Event Date: 11 July 2012
Garden Court Chambers
57 – 60 Lincoln Inn’s Fields
London WC2A 3

The Campaign against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) in association with the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (EDLH), the Newham Monitoring Project (NMP), the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), G4S Campaign and CagePrisoners  present:

Securitisation as a Political Strategy: Creating Insecurity, suppressing Dissent

‘Security Measures’ are becoming all-pervasive, supposedly to protect us from severe threats. In practice, such measures turn us into suspects – subjected to preventative measures such as state surveillance, restrictions on movement, extra-judicial powers, secret evidence and even punishment without trial. ‘Terrorism’ , ‘extremism’ and ‘ suspicious behavior’ are defined so broadly and vaguely as to entrap potentially anyone. Some measures target specific groups; for example, anti-terror powers target migrant diaspora and Muslim communities, as well as (increasingly) political activists. Organised as mass-media spectacles, anti-terror raids label individuals and entire groups as terror suspects. For the past decade, secret evidence has been systematically used to label and detain foreigners as ‘terror suspects’; more recently, secret evidence has been extended to other procedures, likewise in the name of national security. Curfews and dispersal orders target youth, labeling normal social activities as dangerous.

Israel’s occupation of Palestine has served as a laboratory for many surveillance and control techniques designed for global export. These are being adapted for ‘security measures’ at airports and mega-events such as the Olympics. In the run-up to the London Olympics, military equipment is being deployed to build public fear, justifying a quasi-military occupation on behalf of multinational companies. Israeli checkpoints have been spreading: when Palestinian activists planned protests against Israel’s Habima Treatre performance in London in May, the Shakespeare Globe Theatre installed airport-style detectors to screen all ticket holders, as well as employing private ‘security guards’.

The British-Danish company G4S has been quickly growing and gaining state-like powers in this country. It has been long involved in the Israeli occupation, e.g. by supplying equipment to Israeli prisons and ‘security services’ to businesses in illegal Israeli settlement. G4S has been designated as the ‘official provider of security and cash services for the Olympics’.

In all these ways, securitisation is a political strategy for spreading fear and insecurity, while also suppressing dissent against neoliberal policies and war. It attempts to discipline us all through fear that our behavior will be treated as ‘extreme’ or ‘suspicious’. Societal conflicts are increasingly defined as ‘security problems’ warranting special measures – which thereby become normal. All these measures encourage suspicion towards each other, discouraging solidarity.

We will ask the following questions: How is insecurity being defined and even created by the state? Who threatens whose security? What has been driving securitisation? How can this be undermined through solidarity among the groups being targeted?

Welcome by Saleh Mamon (CAMPACC) .
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Les Levidow (The Campaign against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC))

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Professor Bill Bowring ( European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (EDLH))

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Estelle du Boulay ( Newham Monitoring Project (NMP))

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Diana Neslen (G4S Campaign)

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Shiar Youssef (Corporate Watch)

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Val Swain ( Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol))

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Aviva Stahl ( CagePrisoners)

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Dr Sutha Nadarajah (SOAS)

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Kat Craig ( Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and co-author of  ‘The Protest Handbook’)

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Norman Cohn FBA – A Colloquium

in Academic Service - Archive by on July 7th, 2012

Event Date: 7 July 2012
The Council Room
Birkbeck College, University of London,
London WC1E 7HX.

 

The Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism
presents:

NORMAN COHN FBA – A COLLOQUIUM

Programme:

Welcome by Robert Baldock (Yale University Press).

Session 1

PURSUIT OF THE MILLENNIUM:  Millenarian Movements in the Medieval & Early Modern Period

Introduction by Professor  John Arnold (Birkbeck)

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Professor William Lamont (Sussex):  Norman Cohn: the career

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Professor Dame Jinty Nelson (King’s College London):  Norman Cohn and medieval history

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Professor Lorenzo DiTommaso (Concordia University, Montreal):  Pursuit of the MillenniumA Half-Century On

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Session 1 discussion:

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 Session 2

WARRANT FOR GENOCIDE: Totalitarianism and Political Religion

Introduction by Professor Frank Chalk (Concordia University, Montreal).

Professor John Gray (formerly LSE):  Apocalyptic Politics’ (both Pursuit of the Millennium and Warrant for Genocide?

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Professor Daniel Pick ( Birkbeck):  Norman Cohn & the Columbus Centre

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Session 2 discussion:

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Session 3

EUROPE’S INNER DEMONS: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom

Inrtoduction by Dr Anthony Bale (Birkbeck).

Professor David Feldman (Director, Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck):  Norman Cohn and anti-Semitism

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Paul Lay (Editor, History Today; Senior Research Fellow, Humanities Research Institute, University of Buckingham):  Norman Cohn and Europe

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Professor Frank Chalk (Concordia University and Director, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies)Montreal):  Norman Cohn’s approach to the Early Modern State and the Significance of Torture

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Session 3 discussion:

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Session 4

NORMAN COHN THE MAN, THE LATER WORK

Introduction by  Dr Michael Briant (Cambridge).

A open discussion with questions and comments on the issues that have come up during the day, including the issue of the legitimacy of using psychoanalytic insights in the study of historical phenomena, or their value in illuminating current socio-political problems.

Contributions from:

Sham Ambiavagar:

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Lorenzo DiTommaso:

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and a roundtable discussion:

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To close the day some recollections of Norman Cohn by Dr Marina Voikhanskaya (Cambridge)  in conversation

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The Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism

“The relationship between antisemitism and other forms of racism and exclusion is not only a historical question. It is an urgent issue for today.” Professor David Feldman, Director.

The Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism was established by the Pears Foundation and is based at Birkbeck, University of London. It is a centre of innovative research and teaching, contributing to discussion and policy formation on antisemitism as well as other forms of racial prejudice and intolerance. It is both independent and inclusive.

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