28 January 2009

Two events at UC Irvine

Alain Badiou, "Can the Word Jew Be a Philosophical Concept?"
Saturday, 7 February 2009, 3-5 pm


Conference: "Points of Departure: Political Theology on the Scenes of Early Modernity"
20-21 February 2009, 10 am-2 pm


A conference convened by UCI and SUNY Buffalo under the direction of Julia Reinhard Lupton and Graham Hammill; sponsored by UCI's Department of English, the Political Theology Group, the Program in Religious Studies, the Group for the Study of Early Cultures, with additional support from UCLA's Critical Religious Studies Group and the Department of English at SUNY Buffalo.

In literary studies, the phrase "political theology" has come to designate the common sources and affiliations shared by politics and religion, as well as their antagonisms and internal resistances. In Renaissance and early modern studies, "political theology" unites scholars who aim to develop some of the texts and impulses associated with critical theory (especially psychoanalysis, later deconstruction, and the Baroque meditations of Walter Benjamin) in a direction defined by issues of secularization, sovereignty, and bio power in the Renaissance and in contemporary life. The phrase "political theology" has its origins in medieval iconographies of sacred kingship as distributed and displayed in the political, dramatic, and artistic forms of European civilization, along with the critique of traditional sovereignty mounted by Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, and others in the seventeenth century. There is thus a special relationship between political theology as a critical approach to literature, politics, and thought and early modernity as a period and area of study.

This conference brings together established and emerging scholars in early modern studies who share an interest in the role that seventeenth century literature and thought has played in modern theories of secularization, sovereignty, and forms of life. We have asked speakers to address texts or moments from the early modern period that have served as a "point of departure" for later developments of politics and theology in modernity. Our goal is to present situated introductions to major figures in modern political theology, revealed through their exegetical engagements with early modern texts. The conference aims to make the case not only for the relevance of political theology as a critical discourse in the humanities today, but for the essential role that Renaissance and Baroque literature and thought have played in its pre- and post-histories.

Contact: Julia Reinhard Lupton, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, jrlupton@uci.edu

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