Invisible Lives - Silent Voices

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Jeudi 11 avril 18h – 20h en ligne

Session of the “Invisible Lives, Silent Voices” International Seminar co-organised by Alice Borrego (EMMA, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3), Héloïse Lecomte (IRHIM, ENS Lyon), Dr Gero Guttzeit (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München) and Professor Esther Peeren (ASCA, University of Amsterdam).

Invisible Lives, Silent Voices: New Media and Invisibility  – Dr Jakko Kemper (University of Amsterdam) and Dr Natalia Sánchez Querubín (University of Amsterdam) 

Chair: Pr Esther Peeren (University of Amsterdam)

Jakko Kemper (University of Amsterdam): Deep time and microtime: Anthropocene temporalities and Silicon Valley’s longtermist scope

Living in Anthropocene times entails living in relation to two seemingly separate temporalities—the microtime of digital operations and the deep time of geological upheaval. Though divergent, these temporalities are united by their unavailability to perception; microtime proceeds too fast to perceive directly, while deep time is too vast to apprehend. Taking these insensible temporalities as a point of departure, my presentation will develop three arguments. First, I assert that the temporalities of deep time and microtime increasingly impact contemporary existence, complicating familiar categorizations of temporal experience that operate only on what is sensible and visible. Second, I argue that these ostensibly separate temporalities are ontologically connected through the operations of the tech industry, which is constructing a microtemporal system that extracts the planet’s deep time resources to delimit the future both materially and cognitively. Third, I suggest that Silicon Valley legitimizes these processes by funding the philosophy of longtermism, which appeals to distant timescales and their possible accommodation of myriad (invisible) lives to marginalize injustices in the present.


Natalia Sánchez Querubín (University of Amsterdam): Grief-bots and their errors

Grief bots are stirring up debate about machine learning's place in death and spiritual rituals. In principle, grief bots allow a person to chat and interact with a system that has learned the speech patterns and behaviors of someone who has died. Could grief-bots become corrupted? What would corruption or malfunction look like? Grief bots will likely be services managed by for-profit companies. May they become distorted by advertisements fed to us through them? In my presentation, I will be discussing the results of a recent speculative writing workshop. During the workshop, I guided participants to imagine themselves as customer service representatives for a grief-bot company and analyze the technology from the perspective of errors.


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Mercredi 20 mars 18h – 20h en ligne

Invisible Lives, Silent Voices: Modernist Studies in Invisibility  – Dr Isabelle Brasme (Université de Nîmes) and Pr Stephen Ross (University of Victoria) Chair: Dr Gero Guttzeit (LMU Münich)

Isabelle Brasme (Université de Nîmes)  - The Case of Literary Testimonies of the First World War

My talk will address issues of visibility and audibility in literary testimonies of the First World War, with a particular focus on the differences in the status, directness and articulateness of women’s versus men’s accounts. The exclusion of female voices from the corpus of war writing, which was initiated as early as 1914 and was perpetuated for many decades, came to be internalised by many of the women—nurses, journalists, secretaries—who were nonetheless directly involved in and integral witnesses of the conflict. This bears direct consequences on their choice of form and on the stability and reliability of the persona through whom their accounts are conveyed. The self-representation of women on the theatre of the First World War is often characterised with the paradigms of liminality, uninhabitability and spectrality.

Although they comprise but a small sample of the staggering variety of texts produced from the Front, the testimonies written by Mary Borden, Vera Brittain, Ford Madox Ford, Siegfried Sassoon and May Sinclair tend to demonstrate a striking correlation between the perceived—or imposed—importance of their role and legitimacy in the war and the directness and assuredness of their narratives. I will address in particular the stability of the form and of the enunciative stance and the manner in which both text and persona match or resist pre-set categories of testimonies.


Stephen Ross (University of Victoria) - ‘”The Life to Come,’ Homoeroticism, and Colonial Horror’

My talk argues that E. M. Forster’s ‘The Life to Come’ navigates the problems of alterity and ethics through figures of unspeakability. The whole is overcoded with an informal Christianity that is in constant dialogue with paganism and presented in a distinctly spectral register, one that accommodates all the various configurations demanded by this overdetermined—at times overwrought—matrix of concerns. I show how Forster uses spectral rhetoric to navigate the shoals of not just homosexuality, but race and eroticism, with a relentless focus on justice (and its conventionally British miscarriages). Borrowing from Cornell West, the whole is cast in terms that resonate throughout Forster’s oeuvre, as he outlines a vision of justice that is precisely ‘what love looks like in public’. For Forster, though, much of what he called love could not be publicly displayed (as evidenced in the delayed publication of Maurice and ‘The Life to Come’ only after his death). This temporal lag captures precisely the logic of tendential utopianism that adheres to modernist uses of spectrality.



Jeudi 15 février 18h – 20h en ligne

Invisible Lives, Silent Voices: Gender in/and Performance  Dr Jeanne Schaaf (Université Lyon 2 Lumière) and Dr Anouk Bottero (INU Champollion) Chair: Dr Héloïse Lecomte (ENS Lyon)

Jeanne Schaaf (Université Lyon 2 Lumière) - Community in Absentia in the play Adam by Frances Poet ( 2017). 

As a public space, the theatrical stage is where representations of the nation are constructed and deconstructed, in an unceasing dialogue between art and politics. The Scottish stage reinvents its relationship to the national space by playing with various scales of space and community, from the local to the global. Space and place, constantly challenged on the stage, become objects of representation that question the multiple ways of doing, showing, and seeing theatre. As a building-less national theatre, the National Theatre of Scotland reinvests all types of spaces, be they real or virtual, asking us to rethink the presence and absence of the body on stage, and fostering new transnational communities of “spect-actors”. This theatre without walls is a metonymy for the radical opening up of Scottish theatre itself, which invites postnational and horizontal representations of identity. The analysis of Adam a play by Frances Poet produced by the NTS in 2017, about the odyssey of a transgender person, and featuring a virtual choir of a transgender community offers a productive paradigm to explore new understandings of the way communities are fostered by post-national polyphonies on stage.


Anouk Bottero (INU Champollion) - Beyond the Diva: Black Women’s Songs on the US Stage

US musical theatre has traditionally been the site of expansion of the female voice, most notably through the well-known figure of the “diva”, whose larger-than-life voice and temperament exceed norms. Musical theatre’s songs and the specific vocal techniques associated with the Broadway style (such as belting) allow for a powerful expression of what can’t be said through regular spoken discourse. Considering this, it is not surprising that so many plays from the musical theatre repertoire stage Black American heroines who vocally reclaim the space of the stage, like Celie in The Color Purple, who belts “I’m here” in the show’s climactic number.

However, other plays that aren’t considered as part of the musical theatre genre have borrowed its use of the singing voice to make Black women’s experiences heard. Indeed, Ntozake Shange’s polyphonic choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (1975) is peppered with singing numbers, whereas the lady in brown opens the play by imploring: “somebody/anybody / sing a black girl’s song / bring her out”. Toni Morrison’s Desdemona (2012) gives Barbary, Desdemona’s African nurse, a prominent role through the lullabies she sings alongside a Chorus (with music composed by Malian composer-lyricist Rokia Traoré).

By looking at musicals (Dreamgirls, The Color Purple and Caroline, or Change) alongside plays which blur the contours of dramatic genres (Desdemona and for colored girls), this presentation envisions singing as a unique modality through which Black feminine experiences are voiced on stage. This presentation also looks at the specificities of these voices, and the appropriation of Broadway vocal techniques as well as vernacular music from Black American communities and African musical traditions. The political stakes behind this staging of Black feminine voices raises a central paradox: does the singing voice act as a poetic conjuration of the silence to which Black American women have often been relegated? On the contrary, because the singing voice is a form of sublimated speech, does it smooth out and harmoniously dissolve the (often) violent reality of these various experiences? 


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Dernière mise à jour : 10/04/2024