Spring 2018

Revolt or Resignation?: Between Lacanian Political Theory and Affect Theory 

Presented by Dr. Mari Ruti, Distinguished Professor of Critical Theory and of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Toronto

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 5 PM at Harland Cinema in the AMUC. With reception to follow. 


The PSP Presents: A Seminar by Dr. Mari Ruti

Thursday, April 12 - 10 AM to 12 PM in 216 Bowden 

PSP Students: RSVP melinda.robb@emory.edu


Lunch and Learn: Jetlegged Soverignty in Roberto Bolano's 2666

Presented by Matías Bascuñán

Monday, March 19, 2018 11:30 am - 12:45 pm 

Philosophy Seminar Room - 216 Bowden 

A sovereign is always sending himself in letters—hoping, to be sure, that they will always arrive at their destination, and that in reading the signature of the letter, the addressee will confirm his all-encompassing omnipotence and self-identity. As such, the letters the sovereign sends look more like decrees (i.e., as “an official order that has the force of law” OED) than like any other kind of letter, insofar as it is ultimately his very “self” that the sovereign envelopes and puts in the mailbox. Hence, if the trajectory of the sovereign sending is successful, then the sovereign returns to himself at the end of every sending. The sovereign is thus always sending letters to himself.

But what would happen to this structure of sovereign self-sending—and to the very “self” of the sovereign—if one were to take up Jacques Derrida’s claim that a letter might always not arrive at its destination? Although Roberto Bolaño has seldom been read as engaging with sovereign figures in his writings, this presentation argues that the second section of his posthumous novel, 2666, offers a striking account of the failure of sovereign self-sending in the scene where its protagonist, the Chilean Professor of Philosophy Óscar Amalfitano, experiences “jetlag” after running into a forgotten book while unpacking his library, which he himself had shipped from Barcelona before moving to his new job in the Mexican city of Santa Teresa. In the wake of Derrida’s understanding of the postal principle, ipseity, and what Sigmund Freud termed Nachträglichkeit, this paper thus proposes to read Bolaño’s jetlag as an irreducible disjointedness in the return to self that characterizes sovereignty.

Matías Bascuñán is a Fulbright Scholar and a Woodruff Graduate Fellow in the Department of Comparative Literature at Emory University. Through readings of Hobbes, Cervantes, Bolaño, and Derrida, his dissertation project, tentatively titled “Sovereign Literarillness,” explores the solidarity between autoimmunity, democracy, and literature in the deconstruction of sovereignty.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to Melinda Robb melinda.robb@emory.edu

Lunch and Learn: Syringe:, The Freudian Solution 

Presented by Ryan Fics

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 11:30 am - 12:45 pm 

Philsophy Seminar Room - 216 Bowden

In Sigmund Freud’s 1909 case study “Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis,” also known by its animal nickname “Rat Man,” he sets out to accomplish two things: prove that psychoanalysis can cure obsessional neurosis (an illness that traditional medical practices during his time could not cure) and legitimate psychoanalysis as a science while distinguishing it from psychology and philosophy. Following Freud through forbidden literature, German folklore, and poetry, I reconstruct what Freud deems the enigma of “the great rat idea,” and its entanglement with the obsessional neurosis of his patient. In doing so, I argue that the future of psychoanalysis as a scientific discipline depends on how Freud translates the meaning of the word “rat.” Whether Freud is successful or not will be explored in the final stages of this paper by thinking through the opinions of some of his most devoted readers.

Ryan Fics is a fourth year PhD student in Comp Lit. He has a BA and MA in Religion from the University of Manitoba, Canada. His MA focused on animality in the work of Jacques Derrida. Building from this previous work, Ryan is interested in psychoanalysis and exploring metaphors of the body and illness in Political Philosophy, and late 19th and early twentieth century literature.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to Melinda Robb melinda.robb@emory.edu