Fragments of Time

I’m giving one of the keynote presentations at Lancaster University’s Fragments of Time Conference (abstract at the bottom)…

9.00am – 9.15am Registration

9.15 – 11.00

1: Roundtable: FASS MR1, Chair: Andrea Rossi
-Arthur Bradley, Michael Dillon, Charlie Gere, Diana Stypinska, Lancaster University, “Gino De Dominicis and the Time to Come”

2: Modernism & Technology: FASS MR2, Chair: Sarah Post
– Brian Baker, Lancaster University, “L’homme machine: re/tour/kraft/werk”
– Margaret Olson, University College London, “The Giving of Nothing Coated in Advertisements for Money”: H. G. Wells’ Tono-Bungay and Creating Value from Waste.
– Lynne Pearce, Lancaster University, “Redefining the ‘Driving-Event’ as a Unit of Consciousness”
Tzu-Ching Yeh, Lancaster University, “Late Modernism in Samuel Beckett’s Radio Plays: Reassessing Joyce-Beckett Relationship”

11.00 – 11.15 Coffee Break

11.15 – 12.30

1: Visionary States : FASS MR1, Chair: Alan Gregory
– Maria Cichosz, University of Toronto, “‘My Watch is Running Backward’: Tripping, Intoxicated Experience, and Potentiality in Representations of Altered Time”
– Chris Witter, Lancaster University, “Tillie Olsen’s ‘Tell Me A Riddle’: Eva Transmitting”
– Andrew Dawson, Lancaster University, “Temporal Dislocution as an Apolitics of Self”

2: Fragments of Early Modern Times: FASS MR2, Chair: Hilary Hinds
– Rachel White, Lancaster University, “‘One instant is your time to alter all’: Fulke Greville’s Politics of Temporality”
– Stephen Curtis, Lancaster University, “Temporal Performance: Time on the Early Modern Stage”
– Martin Spies, Justus-Liebig-Universität, “‘Lo heer’s the Pattern of Prince Henries parts, Of Henries foure the faire Epitomie.’ James Maxwell’s Fragmented Genealogies of the Early Stuarts

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 14.45

1: Remembering the Radical Past – from the Radical Studies Network: FASS MR1, Chair: Chris Witter
– Jen Morgan, University of Salford, “Remembering the ‘Never to Be Forgotten’ Peterloo: Change and Difference in Mancunian Chartists’ Aesthetic and Political Practices”
– Elinor Taylor, University of Salford, “‘Many a Devious Twist Ahead’: 1848 in the Communist Historical Novel”
– Phil O’Brien, University of Salford, “Ross Raisin’s Waterline: Reclaiming the Past through the Trauma of the Neoliberal Present”

2: Fragments of History and Fantasy: FASS MR 2, Chair: Chloé Alexandra Germaine Buckley
– Charul (Chuckie) Patel, Lancaster University, “At the Crossroads between Tensed and Tenseless Time: Exploring the Hero’s Journey in Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion”
– Abigail Edmunds, Lancaster University, “Victorian Goblin Encounters: Trolling the Proletariat in the work of George MacDonald, Christina Rossetti and Charles Dickens”
– Glyn Morgan, University of Liverpool, “Fantasies of the Third Reich: Sarban’s The Sound of His Horn and Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream”

14.45- 16.00

1: Mappings: FASS MR1, Chair: Charul (Chuckie) Patel
– Simon Ferdinand, University of Amsterdam, “The Arrow Shattered: The Polychronous Urban Cartography of Gert Jan Kocken”
– Freyja Peters, Lancaster University, “‘Découpage and montage’: the Production of Urban Space and Urban Time in American Graphic Novels”
– Joel Evans, Lancaster University, “The Time-Image and Patrick Keiller’s Situationist Roots”

2: Narrative and Time: FASS MR2, Chair: Muhammad Hamdan
– Sutapa Dutta, University of Delhi, “Subverting History, Narrativizing the Past, Reinventing Identity”
– Sarah Post, Lancaster University, “Comic Timing: Britain’s Multicultural Comedies and the Comedy of Multiculturalism”
– Veronica Frigeni, University of Kent, “The ‘humoristic caesura’, or: Towards a Reading of Walter Benjamin’s Modernity sub specie aesteticae”

16.00 – 16.30 Coffee Break

16.30- 17.15

– Keynote: Victoria Browne, University of London, “Formulating Feminist Time: Progress Narratives, Futural Displacements, and Temporalities of Struggle”

17.15 – 18.00

– Keynote: Matthew Charles, University of Westminster, “Not Even the Dead Will Be Safe: The Catastrophic Function in Contemporary Culture”

‘The dead are “multiform” and exist in many places on the earth at the same time. For this reason, people must very seriously concern themselves, during their lifetime, with the betterment of the earth’ (L. J. B. Toureil, quoted in Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, p5a, 2)

‘Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.’ (Charles Péguy, Notre Jeunesse)

The retrieval of the utopian imagination within contemporary theory and culture responds to the political impasse of a “capitalist realism”. Yet this attentiveness to what Ernst Bloch called the Utopian function in art and literature, now stripped of any Utopia, can only manifest itself as a liberal inversion of the conservative valorization of the past. Against the proliferation of Utopian visions of workless play and sentimental communality, this paper instead seeks to draw on Walter Benjamin’s concept of history to construct and utilise a pragmatic understanding of what I term the Catastrophic function as a way of interrogating the ideological dimensions of historicity within contemporary culture.

Having introduced and defended the present usefulness of the Catastrophic function, this idea will be put to work, first to delineate “the dead” as a political category within 19th and 20th century literature, and then to contrast this with a shift in the most recent representations of the “undead” within contemporary film and television, a shift symptomatic of broader changes with contemporary social and political life. What is catastrophic about contemporary representations of catastrophe, it will conclude, is that they are too utopian: that is, not catastrophic enough.

2 thoughts on “Fragments of Time

  1. Pingback: Utopia and Its Discontents | Benjamin//Pedagogy

  2. Pingback: Utopia and Its Discontents | Pedagogy & the Inhumanities

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