Philosophies of History is pleased to announce its inaugural conference!   

London: 1 July 2014, One-Day Symposium

Organisers: Claire Norton and Mark Donnelly The Centre for the Philosophy of History (St Mary’s University), and Michael J. Kelly Philosophies of History (University of Leeds)

Is historiography akin to (theories of) objectivity or closer to subjectivist expression? What happens if we assume that while there well may have been an ‘extra-textual’ past reality, history is always an ‘intra-textual,’ imagined and fictive enterprise? While accepting a narrativist philosophy of history requires acknowledging the irreality of historying, it also legitimises a multiplicity of possible experimental forms that could be deployed to engage with the time before now: surreal, Dadaist, altereality, uncreative, documentary-fiction historying? Is it fair to argue that the more innovative and original a historian desires to be the more subjective her output will be, whereas in contrast, the less she is willing to say, the more objective her result will be? Has postmodernism, in its rejection of universality and foundational truths, provided history aesthetically and functionally with a more radical or emancipatory platform than its objectivity-centred Modernist predecessor?  Or have postmodernist aesthetics simply reinforced the status quo and thus marginalized alternative ways of engaging with our pasts?

Papers given by philosophers, historians, and artists at the one-day symposium Aesthetics, Postmodernism and the ‘before now’ will consider such questions as these.  Responding to narrativist theories of history, developments in contemporary literary theory, and experimental forms of narrating or performing pasts in the visual arts they will explore the aesthetic possibilities for history writing in theory and in practice.

This conference, like all of the activities of Philosophies of History around the world, is free and open to all who are interested in attending. We are also able to provide limited travel bursaries for postgraduate students.  If you are interested please let us know:  

We will be publishing a post-conference, edited volume and a guest edition of a journal in the field. If you are interested in publishing with us on the topic, we strongly encourage you to come along and participate.For full abstracts, please see the website of the Centre for the Philosophy of History.  
Below is the full program: 

Date: Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Location: St. Mary’s University Twickenham London, Senior Common Room

9.15 - 9.40                   Register

9.40 – 9.50                  Welcome

9.50 – 11.10                Panel 1: Chair – Mark Donnelly                                           
                                      Alun Munslow - Irreality and the Aesthetics of Historying
                                      Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen - Historiography between subjectivity and objectivity

11.10 – 11.25              Refreshment break

11.25 – 12.45              Panel 2: Chair – Claire Norton                                           
                                       Paul Antick -  Smith @ Batang Kali: Letter B to Cohen.
                                    Helena Hammond - Dancing in the museum: Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark (2002) and the politics and poetics of the aesthetics of the St. Petersburg total art work as historical representation

12.45 – 1.30              Lunch

1.30 – 2.50                Panel 3: Chair – Michael J. Kelly                                            
                                      Adi Efal  - Habitude and archaeology
                                  Javier López Alós - Rhetoric, Representation & Apocalypse: The Peninsular War as Religious War

2.50 – 3.10                Refreshment break

3.10 – 4.30                Panel 4: Chair – Helena Hammond
                                      Kalle Pihlainen - History as uncreative writing
                                      Robert Doran - Hayden White and the Practical Past

4.30                             Closing remarks

Short Biographies of the Speakers:

Paul Antick is an artist, writer and photographer based at University of Roehampton, London. Since 2006 his work on dark tourism has been supported by a wide range of national and international institutions of art, writing and photography. His performance project ‘Research Product #4: The Aestheticization of Smith’ was recently staged at Belfast Exposed Photography Gallery as part of the city’s 2013 international photo festival.

Robert Doran is Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Languages at the University of Rochester. His most recent publications include: “Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason and the Debate with Lévi-Strauss,” Yale French Studies 123 (2013): 41-62.He has edited a number of books including Philosophy of History After Hayden White (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) and his first monograph The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant is under review. His current book project is entitled Revolutionary Aesthetics: The Sublime in Nineteenth-Century France.

Adi Efal is a post-doc researcher at the Thomas Institute of the University of Cologne. She has taught in the University of Tel-Aviv and Haifa. Recent publications include: ‘Le “regard philologique” de Warburg,’ Images re-vues, hors séries 4, Survivance d’Aby Warburg, éds. Sabine Mendoza-Forero et Bertrand Prévost, ; ‘Art History less its conditions of possibility: Following Bergson’s ‘le possible et le réel,’’ eds. Charlotte de Mille and John Mullarkey, Bergson and the art of immanence, Edinburgh University Press 2013, 47-72; ‘Philology and the history of art,’ The Making of the Humanities Volume II: From Early Modern to Modern Disciplines, eds. Rens Bod, Jaap Maat and Thijs Weststeijn, Amsterdam University Press, 263-299.

Helena Hammond is a Senior Lecturer in Dance at the University of Roehampton. She has published numerous works including “Dancing Against History: (The Royal) Ballet, Forsythe, Foucault, Brecht and the BBC,” Dance Research, 2013 and “Spectacular Histories”, her essay on the Ballets Russess and French Romanticism’s drive to history (as contribution to the Ballets Russess centenary exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Australia, 2010), which received the Fulbright Associations ‘Selma Jeanne Cohen Award’ for dance research.

Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen is Associate Professor at the Department of History of Science and Ideas in the University of Oulu in Finland. He was Lecturer in Philosophy in the University of Hull in 2012-2013. He studied Contemporary History and Philosophy at the University of Turku, Finland, and Philosophy at the New School University, New York. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh. His areas of expertise are Philosophy of Science, Thomas Kuhn, Philosophy of History and Historiography, Historiography of Science and Science Studies. He is currently (2013-2014) Marie Curie fellow at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and writing a book, which is preliminary entitled Postnarrativist Philosophy of Historiography (Palgrave Macmillan).

Javier López Alós is an Honorary Collaborator with the Department of History of Philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid. He has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds since 2012 to 2014. His main topic of research has been the history of political concepts, and focuses on the Spanish Enlightenment, as well as the Spanish and European Catholic anti-modern trends and their impact on a range of cultural fields, i.e. historiography, literature and law. He has written numerous articles on these topics and the monograph Entre el trono y el escaño. El pensamiento reaccionario español frente a la Revolución liberal (1808-1823) was published by the Parliament of Spain in 2011.

Alun Munslow is visiting professorial research fellow at St Mary’s University. He is also the UK Editor of Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory & Practice. His research interests centre on the understanding of history as a fictively construed literary and experimental aesthetic. He has written extensively on the nature of history. His most recent books are The Future of History (Routledge 2010), A History of History (Routledge, 2012) and a collection of edited essays by leading historians Authoring the Past: Writing and Rethinking History (Routledge, 2012). He is presently working on a book on the aesthetic process of ‘historying’.

Kalle Pihlainen works as an Academy of Finland Research Fellow, based at the Department of Philosophy, Åbo Akademi University/Academy of Finland. He is also Adjunct Professor of Historical Theory at the Department of Contemporary History, University of Turku, Finland. He has published articles on narrative theory and the philosophy of history in various anthologies and in journals including Rethinking History, New Literary History, Clio, Historein and Storia della Storiografia. His research and teaching has primarily focused on historical theory, narrative theory, embodiment, existential phenomenology and the ethics of narrative representation particularly in relation to Hayden White and Jean-Paul Sartre. Ongoing research projects investigate the representational strategies employed by Sartre in L’Idiot de la Famille as well as the question of embodiment in contemporary narrative theory.

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