Summer School - Towards a Poetics and Politics of Silence, 2022, Germany

Publish Date: Jun 11, 2022

Deadline: Jul 01, 2022

Event Dates: from Jul 24, 2022 12:00 to Jul 29, 2022 12:00

Silence (tacere or Schweigen) has been considered by Franz Rosenzweig among others as a subversive act or defiant stance of the tragic hero against overwhelming power mechanisms of necessity, i.e., totalization and universality. It has also, however, been regarded as an epiphenomenon (or a result) of marginalization and oppression by postcolonial theorists. The latters’ understanding marks silence as an end, a potential violent effect of the logics of exclusion and marginalization by “signifying machines”. The former understanding marks silence as a means of rendering mechanisms of powers inoperative. Therefore, the significance of silence appears to oscillate within an aporia of means and ends, singularity and universality, a-thesiology and thesiology, performance and logos. For the Münster Lectures and Summer School to be mutually complementary, we want to re-explore these known aporias from the perspective of silence as a concept which may occasion an ethics, poetics, and politics of “pure means” or violent ends. Can a logic of silence call for something more than resignation or defiance, complicity or conformity, and if so, how can the notion of silence be expanded into the realm of political action, or into new realms with newvoices? The Summer School will be divided into three sections: Theory, Poetics and Politics. We do, however, foresee a continuous interaction between the three fields.

The Summer School will open with the Münster Lectures which seek to combine the merits of theoretical and literary insight of renowned scholars, prominent writers, and cultural activists to discuss current debates, both scholastic and social. The Münster Lectures are open to doctoral candidates, post-doc researchers, humanities students, and the general public. The Münster Lectures aim to strengthen not only the interdisciplinary exchange among members of the university, but also bridges the gap between the university and the city of Münster.

Panel 1: Theory
The first panel will discuss the concepts of silence (silere and tacere) which revolve around the paradigms of (a-)representability, (a-)temporality, (a-)historicity, and (a-)teleology. Under what ideological premises can silence be considered subversive and/or oppressive? Does the concept of silence require a rethinking of temporality? If silence is understood as a withdrawal from the sphere of semantics (or meaning), what consequences does this have on the processes of signification and representation that allow to address injustices? How does silence remain politically relevant today given its former exclusiveness to the tragic hero? Would it be possible to rethink the primacy of speaking over silence, or meaning over performativity?

Panel 2: Poetics
The second panel focuses on works of art in search of a poetics which transcends the mere re/presentation of silence. This panel is deeply interested in the various functions that silence partakes in works of art, which are reflected in the formal/structural/narrative strategies that it employs. Does silence merely conceal the inappropriable, hinting towards negativity in language? Does silence function as a residual manifestation of what is sayable, or does silence hint at the need for a re-understanding of language and signification? Are there any commonalities between mediality and silence? How does the concept of silence interact with ideas of genres? If the subject is created by the instance of speech, how does a work of art give accounts of non-subjects (of silenced subalterns or those who prefer not to speak)?

Panel 3: Politics
The third panel will interrogate the ethical and political implications of the aforementioned panels: Does silence lead to new ethical paradigms or does it ask for reactionary political concepts of tragedy and necessity? Can an adequate understanding of silence articulate community and commonalities outside the primacy of “thetical” language and positive law, beyond normative and imperative approaches of community-building based on exclusion and the interminably marginal? Can silence constitute a bridge towards thinking about postidentity, or does it remain a mode of concealment of injustices and unbridgeable differences?

To apply for a participation seat, fill out the registration information on the registration page of our website:

The Summer School is open to doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and advanced MA students working in the humanities of all disciplines of cultural studies, philosophy, history, literature, political science, sociology, and related fields of research.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

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