Hope and Hopelessness

The confidence of earlier epochs seems to have evaporated from our own. Progress, modernization, freedom, equality, enlightenment: the list of hopeful concepts from an ever-receding past is a long one. And yet ours is not the first era to grapple with despair or promises seemingly unfulfilled. At the same time, a counterpoint surge in utopian thinking seems to validate Ernst Bloch's intuitions about a fundamental utopian impulse. An impulse that likewise can be traced to distant times or places.  Are hope and hopelessness interdependent sensibilities or is this a peculiar characteristic of our times? This semester's program will explore past, present, and emerging landscapes of hope and hopelessness, perhaps with Kafka's rejoinder to Max Brod in our ear: “Oh, plenty of hope, an infinite amount of hope--but not for us.”

All lectures begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted, and are held in the Daniel Family Commons, which is located in the Usdan University Center.

09/12/2016

A Pessimist's Tour of the Post-Freudian Unconscious.

BLAKEY VERMEULE • Stanford University GO

09/19/2016

The Economy of Hope

HIROKAZU MIYAZAKI • Cornell University GO

10/3/2016

Hopes of killing: the cultural politics of eradication

FIONA PROBYN-RAPSEY • University of Wollongong 

10/10/2016

Afro-Pessimism and the Ruse of Analogy

FRANK WILDERSON • UC Irvine 

10/17/2016

Carceral Logic and the Paradox of Hope

LORI GRUEN • Wesleyan University 

11/7/2016

Dialogism and the Prophecy of Destruction: Martin Buber, Stefan Zweig, and Franz Werfel

NITZAN LEBOVIC • Lehigh University 

11/14/2016

TBD

JAMES YOUNG • U. Mass 

11/21/16

Weird Science: The Return to Empiricism in Literary Studies

LILY SAINT • Wesleyan University 

11/28/2016

Consuming Darkness: Melodrama and Comedy in Television Storytelling

ELIZABETH G. TRAUBE • Wesleyan University

12/5/2016

Movies and Entertaining Social Change: On Popularizing Strategies, the Hope Industry, 

and the Uses of Soft Capitalism

JOEL PFISTER • Wesleyan University