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The Dis/Order of Things: Predisciplinarity After Foucault

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October 2009

An Interdisciplinary Workshop
With a Keynote Lecture by Professor Simon During (Johns Hopkins)

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This interdisciplinary research workshop brings together postgraduates, academics from different fields, and curators to think about Enlightenment Objects and discuss questions of disciplinarity in the wake of Michel Foucault’s seminal work The Order of Things (Les Mots et Les Choses 1966).

The first part of the meeting features a short presentation by British Museum curators Kim Sloan on curating the Enlightenment Gallery and Frances Carey on James Cook’s hand. These panoramic and microscopic approaches open up questions about the lives of objects. Because Cook’s voyages and associated forms of cultural encounter have enjoyed substantial attention in recent interdisciplinary studies, this session is a chance to revisit familiar ground focussing specifically on how Cook objects work in different exhibition contexts and practices. After the two presentations we open the ground for general discussion, hoping you will share the object questions that arise in your own research.
In preparation for the session, you are asked to familiarize yourself with the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum and the Catalogue of the Forster Collection, originally donated to the Ashmolean Museum and now in the Pitt Rivers (online at http://projects.prm.ox.ac.uk/forster/home.html).

We then move on to rethink our objects and questions with Michel Foucault’ revisit Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things (1966). Foucault’s The Order of Things was arguably one of the most influential and ground-breaking books in twentieth-century intellectual history, an investigation into the conditions of possibility of the human sciences that offered an archeology of the disciplines. Foucault’s work produced an often unrecognizable and deliberately controversial account of the ruptures within and between traditionally defined epistemes such as economics, natural history and philology. The repercussions and controversies generated by this text continue to resonate within current debates on disciplinarity, and especially on the relations between the humanities and the sciences. Full text on line:

 

Finally we  conclude with a keynote by Professor Simon During (John Hopkins), the author of Foucault and Literature: Towards a Genealogy of Writing (1993), The Cultural Studies Reader (1993), Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic (2002).


Structure:
Enlightenment Objects: Panoramic, Microscopic, Theoretical
Enligthenment Collections / Enlightenment Objects

Luisa Calé – Introduction
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Kim Sloan (Curator, British Museum), on the Enlightenment Gallery
British Museum Enlightenment Gallery
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Frances Carey (Curator, British Museum), on James Cook’s Hand
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Keynote:
Professor Simon During (Johns Hopkins):
‘Lost Objects: Magic and Mystery in the late English Enlightenment’
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(Venue: room B36, Malet Street Building)
Contact: l.cale@english.bbk.ac.uk