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February 3, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
The COVID pandemic appeared as a threat to human life, both in the vital sense (a risk to biological life) and in the social sense (a risk to social life: disruption from the suspension of activities, lack of public transport, closure of schools, etc.). It has revealed radical vulnerabilities: of institutions, the species, and the planet; of fragile populations, workers “on the front line,” and each individual. The importance of caring for others and for those who care for “us” has become obvious, while the broader ignorance of society as to what sustains it has finally become evident. The very grammar of care has imposed itself upon all of us, because our vulnerabilities are never so visible as when the “normal” form of life has been disrupted. The pandemic, in its destruction of the space of ordinary life and of “weak links” – places where the daily and anonymous interactions occurred – has also undermined the democratic public space. This talk considers how public life and human interactions can recover. Alexandre Gefen and Sandra Laugier will explore how arts and literature contribute to the expectation of reparation and social transformation, the (re)creation of relationships, the formation of social resilience and other narratives, and the development of an ethic of care.
Alexandre Gefen is a Research Professor (Directeur de recherche) at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), and Deputy Scientific Director of the Institute of Human and Social Sciences of the CNRS. His research focuses on literary theory and contemporary French literature and culture. As founder of the website Fabula.org, he has developed parallel research interests in the development of Digital Humanities. His recent books include: Vies imaginaires de la littérature française (2014); Réparer le monde: La littérature française face au XXIe siècle (2017), which will appear in English in 2022; and L’idée de littérature. De l’art pour l’art aux écritures d’intervention (2021).
Sandra Laugier is Professor of Philosophy at Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne (Paris, France), a Senior Fellow of the Institut Universitaire de France, and the Principal Investigator of the European Research Council (ERC) project DEMOSERIES. She has published extensively on ordinary language philosophy (Wittgenstein, Austin, Cavell), moral and political philosophy, gender studies and the ethics of care, and popular culture (film and TV series). She has translated most of Stanley Cavell’s work and is among the editors of his Nachlass. Her recent publications include: Why We Need Ordinary Language Philosophy (2013); Politics of the Ordinary. Care, Ethics, and Forms of Life (2020); and, edited with Greg Chase and Juliet Floyd, Cavell’s Must We Mean What We Say? at Fifty (2022).
Sponsored by the IHC’s Regeneration series, Hester and Cedric Crowell Endowment, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, Graduate Center for Literary Research, Center for Humanities and Social Change, and Comparative Literature Program