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Workshop | Spectral Temporalities/Spectral Communities. Thinking Hauntologically about Premodern Literature and Culture

Sep 01, 2022 - Sep 03, 2022

Organised by Simon Godart, Research Area 3: "Future Perfect",  and Henry Ravenhall (University of Cambridge).

Derrida’s Spectres de Marx (1993), punning on ontologie, introduces the term hantologie to account for the dislocated temporal dynamics at the core of being. In the words of Hamlet’s Ghost, ‘The time is out of joint.’ There is no ‘present’ without the spectral, which means there is no now that is absolutely self-identical. The spectre epitomizes that figure that cannot be exorcized from the present, that returns to demand justice or that seeks revenge, that interrupts all specularity. Quickly one sees spectrality as a deconstructive operation: undecidable, disruptive, degrounded. Given that hauntology resists any attempt at essentialization, can there be such a thing as a spectral temporality or spectral community? Is it a mode of criticism, an object of enquiry, an ethical injunction, or something else? What possibilities does a self-avowed ‘anachronistic’ approach to texts and other cultural artefacts offer to literary scholars?

This workshop aims to think through the implications of Derrida’s hauntology for humanities researchers and to advance, question, or complexify some of its claims. While the focus is not on figurations of ghosts in the strict sense, we are interested in how premodern cultures may have radically different or unexpected configurations of the spectral, as expressed in the discursive or aesthetic practices of their times. At the same time, we want to reflect on the spectral presence of premodern cultures in modern and contemporary contexts. As the Classics and Medieval Studies have increasingly turned towards questions of the reception, instrumentalization, and reimagining of their subjects and disciplines across time, we might also ask whether this can be theorized in terms of a hauntology. 


Thursday, 1 September

14:00-14:30 | Arrivals

14:30-15:00 | Introductions, Workshop Rationale, Practicalities

15:00-16:00 | Henry Ravenhall (Cambridge): Pressures Past: Spectral Touch and the Premodern Book (chair: Andrew James Johnston)

16:15-17:15 | Emma Claussen (Cambridge): "Son Poeme Estant Irregulier": Spectral Temporalities in Corneille (chair: Simon Godart)

17:30-18:30 | Andrew James Johnston (EXC 2020): Castles Cut Out of Paper: Spectral Architectures in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (chair: Rebecca Hardie)

Friday, 2 September

10:30-11:30 | Simon Godart (EXC 2020): Ghosts and Anachronisms: Spectral Appearances in Tragedy (chair: Emma Claussen)

11:45-12:45 | Tobias Klein (EXC 2020): Grieving in Future Perfect: Gryphian Anticipations and the Haunting of a Future Past – Spectral Encounters with Benjamin and Derrida (chair: Peter Löffelbein)

12:45-13:45 | Lunch

13:45-14:45 | Emily Kate Price (Cambridge): Fortune’s Deconstructions and the Spectrality of Lament (chair: Rebecca Hardie)

15:00-16:00 | Nicolas Longinotti (EXC 2020): Petrarch’s Epic of the Defeated (chair: Heather Webb)

16:00-16:30 | Break

16:30-17:30 | Ellie O’Shea (Cambridge): "The Transcendent Still Point of a Turning World": Space, History, and Trauma in Chrètien de Troyes’s Le Conte du Graal (chair: Henry Ravenhall)

17:45-18:45 | Heather Webb (Cambridge): Encountering the Temporalities of the Suspended Dead: Exclusions and Excessive Affects in Dante (chair: Emily Kate Price)

Saturday, 3 September

10:30-11:30 | Peter Löffelbein (EXC 2020): The Spectral Temporalities of Historiographic Metafiction, or: The Materiality of Time: Revisiting Michael Oondatje’s The English Patient (chair: Benjamin Brewer)

11:30-12:30 | Benjamin Brewer (EXC 2020): Mourning the Remains of Memory: Simonides after Derrida (chair: Simon Godart)

12:30-13:30 | Lunch

13:30-14:00 | Final Discussion, Closing Remarks, Future Planning (chairs: Simon Godart and Henry Ravenhall)


Further Information

The workshop is designed as an in person-event and will be conducted in English. Since the number of participants is limited, please make sure to register with Simon Godart simon.godart@fu-berlin.de by August 21st, 2022. Please note that priority will be given to Cluster members.