ESSCS Summer School: Living Together
”Living Together” is the joint venture of the European Summer School in Cultural Studies (ESSCS) and of the Norwegian nationwide researcher-training school TBLR (Tekst Bilde Lyd Rom = Text Image Sound Space), in Bergen, August 14th-18th, 2017.
(See also ”Background” in our website’s topbar.) The TBLR has seven member universities, and is since the turn of the millenium Norway’s largest nationally networking PhD researcher-training school within literary, aesthetic and cultural studies. The ESSCS is a network-based seminar for interdisciplinary-research training in the fields of art and culture, and it consists of eight European university partners.
14th through 18th of August 2017, ESSCS and TBLR’s tandem efforts aim for a truly international inter-aesthetic and cultural-study event for PhD students, keynotes and participating faculty. Venue is Bergen: Norway’s second largest city, founded in 1070. Bergen is a beautiful city, internationally connected, bustling with life, trade and culture, and centuries of living together. It is situated on the West Coast with its amazing archipelago towards the North Sea, and it is at the same time the gateway to the fjords.
Under the heading ”Living Together”, this Call for Papers is anchored broadly in some of the work of Roland Barthes, Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida. You are cordially invited to apply for participation with papers bearing some relation to the following wide plethora of topics. (On PhD student-paper topics, however, see also further specifics under ”Practical details” below.)
Originally, Roland Barthes gave “Comment vivre ensemble? Sur l’idiorrythmie” as a Cours at Collège de France from January through May in 1977. In the Comment vivre ensemble manuscripts (published in English as How To Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces (2013)), Barthes uses five main literary references to isolate five perspectives – or topoi. His literary references are Palladius’ The Lausiac History, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Zola’s Pot Luck and Gide’s “The Confined Woman of Poitiers”. Barthes’ five perspectives call for closer investigation in many specific directions, as the list of related issues and extrapolated concepts shows. The five topoi are the desert, the island, the sanatorium, the city and the home.
These five perspectives function as part of the framework for organising the activities of the TBLR and the ESSCS in Bergen. The PhD students are invited to participate in the plenary sessions where invited keynotes present their talks followed by ensemble discussions, and in one of three groups where the students’ pre-submitted papers are discussed. Keynotes will be given according to the issues.
There are numerous connections between the five topoi; they complement each other, create differences and show the complexity of the issues of living together in human societies:
(1) DESERT. As a concept, the “desert” is generally thought of as a desolate and empty landscape, interpreted by writers, philosophers, composers, film-makers, artists and critics as a place of extremes. As the landscape of the desert contains dryness, silence, margins and, with some exceptions, lack of fauna and flora, it may serve as a metaphor for anything from death, poverty or religion, to the primitive past, desolate future and nomad culture, but also retirement, withdrawal and acedia (a mental state characterised by indifference, boredom, fear, loss of desire etc.). Since Bishop Palladius’ Lausiac History there is an extensive literature on the subject of deserts. As the American poet Robert Frost writes in his poem “Desert Places”, the desert is among other things related to loneliness and sorrow, the feeling of bearing a void: “I have it in me so much nearer home/To scare myself with my own desert places”. This platform invites to think the idiorrhythmic and idiorrhythmic life as vulnerable and exposed to death. Suggestive key words for PhD student-paper topics and perspectives: death, religions, rules, margins, poverty, silence, acedia/melancholy, nomads, withdrawal, retirement, refusal.
(2) ISLAND. In the history of literature and of myths, the island is a metaphor for isolation, individuality, strandedness, forsakenness, but also independence, new life and creativity based on reduced circumstances. The number of fictional islands is great, from Avalon (Arthurian legend) and Neverland (Barrie) to Treasure Island (Stevenson) and Kokovoko (Melville); from New Atlantis (Bacon) and Utopia (More) to Fraxos (Fowles) and Isla Nublar (Jurrassic Park). As in John Donne’s phrasing, “No man is an island”, the metaphor is obviously open for a questioning of the very essence of idiorrhythmic life. For the summer course, the topos of the island also opens up for reflection on immigration. Bhabha points to the unmappable spaces – in-betweens and liminalities – which appear as archipelagos of or on the outer and inner margins of nations and metropoles: they are produced today primarily by global flows of migration and established diasporic cultures, in which hybrid identities flourish in contemporary cosmopolitan societies. Suggestive key words: isolation, boundaries, independence, individuality, civilisation, migration.
(3) SANATORIUM. The sanatorium is a now outmoded concept for health care institutions or places of recreation for people suffering from tuberculosis until the TB epidemic died down in the 1940s, thanks to antibiotics, as well as for places treating nervous disorders. The life of the sanatorium is described in literature: in novels, short stories and poems, especially from the 19th and 20th Centuries (e.g. Skram, Hamsun, Mann, Plath, Solzjenitsyn), as well as in our time, where it occupies an important place in films (Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), television (von Trier’s Riget), and theatre (Verdensteatret’s The Hourglass Sanatorium). On the other hand, the sanatorium as institution is described in documents and literature concerning public health systems (public accounts and reports on hospital organisation etc.). The particular essence of the sanatorium is that it is closed, but at the same time submitted to public direction. At the summer school, the sanatorium as institution, idea and metaphor may include an exploration of the telos and the the idiorrhythmic of the life at institutions. The sanatorium can be taken as exemplary of various institutions in which people spend parts of their lives living together, such as retirement communities, cruise ships, colleges and prisons. Suggestive key words: health, death, institutions, institution analysis, illness and identification.
(4) CITY. While the city may be regarded as the opposite of the desert, it has affinities to the island metaphor as well as to the topos of the home. The topos of the city invites reflections on various modern life forms, analyses that are focused on idiorrhythmics. In literary studies the modern city has been described as a mythological heterogeneous space for fascination and imagination (e.g. Benjamin, Stierle, Berman). It has also been regarded as a place for anonymity, consisting of alienated literary heroes (Dostoyevsky, Hamsun, Kafka). Cities have been recognized as sites for innovation and for speeding up technological solutions, infrastructure and social relations (Virilio). While they are places for activity and exhaustion, yet city planners have always acknowledged the need for resting places as necessary conditions for a well-functioning city. Cities can thus be seen as places where rhythms of activity and rest, engagement and isolation, become crucial questions. The topos of the city is characterised by paradoxical dynamics: the crowd/loneliness, interaction/anonymity, speed/rest. The city has further been recognised as a place where feudal family structures are challenged, and for experimenting with a huge variety of ways of living together, a major theme in 19th, 20th, and 21st Century fiction (e.g. Dickens, Balzac, Zola, Dostoyevsky, Döblin, Joyce, Cole, Auster). Suggestive key words: urbanity, food, media, ecology, rhythms, finance, information, digital life, recreation, anonymity, single life, dating.
(5) HOME. The topos of home is wideranging, covering the everyday routines, family life yet also, as metaphor, a place that provides a guarentee for identity, health, nutrition, shelter and security. In this sense, home is close to the topoi of island and sanatorium, and as metaphor it is also opposite to city and desert. Traditional food is one of the products of the home, and may be studied as a specific sort of the idiorrhythmic, linked to the notion of taste as both physical and cultural phenomenon. In Barthes’ research the home is also, in his reading of Gide, a place that may be the scene of a crime, that is, characterised by the Freudian notion of the Unheimlich. In the center of home is the idiorrhythmic of shared life as well as the individual, single life forms. Suggestive key words: the everyday, routines, food, rest, taste, solidarity.
Giorgio Agamben; Jacques Derrida:
The summer course’s broadly inclusive topic of Living Together also raises the question of the status of the ’singularities’ that in some form or way actually did, do or may live together. Whether individuals, human persons, members of a community; or bodies, biological entities or other forms of bare life; or linguistically communicating interlocutors, or linguistic beings performatively speech-acting, etc. – the question of the status of the “singularities” also actualises their being’s relation to language and to the law and the subject positions endorsed, allotted or produced by the rights of law, and by language. This makes some of Giorgio Agamben’s work highly topical and inspirationally relevant for our event, as well as some of Jacques Derrida’s work.
Among the works by Agamben that bear particular relevance for the summer school event, are The Coming Community ( 1993); Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life ( 1998); State of Exception ( 2005); and The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life ( 2013).
Similarly, there is a series of works by Jacques Derrida that come to mind in the perspective of the summer course’s topic, Living Together. Some of these might also prepare the ground for exciting comparison, as is the case with Agamben’s works. What has been referred to as an ’ethical’ turn in Derrida’s production, introduced a period of fifteen years plus, during which time Derrida was particularly concerned with problems and promises related to living together. At a closer look, and as has also been contented, both an ’ethical’ and a ’political’ strand may prove to traject through all of his production.
At any rate, Derrida during the latter part of his life, and still ’deconstructively’, was highly concerned with topics such as violence, subjection and extinction, death, loss, memory, mourning; furthermore, globalization and cosmopolitanism; and not least, with topics such as forgiveness, responsibility, friendship (as opposed to brotherhood), hospitality, the gift, as well as with a sustained thinking of the ’democracy to come’. All of which are thought in radical fashion, and which seem to reverberate with topoi, topics and perspectives in both Barthes’ and Agamben’s work actualised here, and with the summer school’s main heading, Living Together.
Among the works by Derrida that seem to bear particular relevance for the summer school event, are The Work of Mourning (1981; in which is included ”The Deaths of Roland Barthes”); Memoires: For Paul de Man (1989); The Gift of Death ( 1995); The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe ( 1992); The Politics of Friendship (1994); Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money (1994); Of Hospitality (2000); On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness (2001); Rogues: Two Essays on Reason (2005; in which is included “The Last of the Rogue States: The ‘Democracy to Come’, Opening in Two Turns”).
A note on suggestive key words for possible PhD student-paper topics: For the work of Georgio Agamben and for that of Jacques Derrida, our CfP does it the other way round with regard to the possible scope of inspiration: Beyond referring to relevant works by Agamben and Derrida, the CfP does not list specified, suggestive topoi, perspectives and key words on a par with the level of detail as in the case of Roland Barthes’ book. The idea is to attempt to productively mingle ’two modi of inspirational suggestivity’ – that of the organisers (’detailing’ Barthes) and that of the enlisted participants (’detailing’ Agamben and Derrida).
Therefore, you yourselves are encouraged to productively select, work out and specify ’living-together perspectives’ on relevant work by Agamben and Derrida.
Suggested Reading List
Agamben, Giorgio. The Coming Community. Transl. Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,  1993.
–––––––. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Transl. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford: Stanford University Press,  1998.
–––––––. State of Exception. Transl. Kevin Attell. Chicaho and London: University of Chicago Press,  2005.
–––––––. The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life. Transl. Adam Kotsko. Stanford: Stanford University Press,  2013.
Anyuru, Johannes. En Storm kom från paradiset (2012). Stockholm: Norstedts, 2013.
Bakhtin, M. "Forms of time and of the chronotope in the novel". In The Dialogic Imagination. Austin: Univ. Texas Press, 1981.
Barthes, Roland. Comment vivre ensemble. Simulations romanesques de quelques espaces quotidiens. Cours et séminaires au Collège de France (1976-1977). Paris: Seuil, 2002.
–––––––. How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces. New York: Colombia UP, 2013.
Bourdieu, Pierre. La distinction. Critique sociale du jugement. Paris: Minuit, 1979,
Baudelaire, Charles. "Le Spleen de Paris", in: Œuvres Complètes, Tome 1. Paris: Gallimard/Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1975.
Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000.
Benjamin, Walter. The Writer of Modern Life. Essays on Charles Baudelaire. Cambridge Mass.: Belknap Press, 2006.
Berman, Marshall. All That is Solid Melts Into Air. The Experience of Modernity. Penguin Books, 1988.
Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994.
Certeau, Michel de. L'invention du quotidien II, habiter, cuisiner. Paris: Gallimard,1994.
Canguilhem, Georges. Le normal et le patologique, Paris: PUF 1966; The Normal and the Pathological. New York: Zone,1991.
Coles, Teju. Open City. London: Faber & Faber, 2011.
Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe . London: Penguin 1994.
Derrida, Jacques. The Work of Mourning. Ed. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Mann. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1981.
–––––––. ”The Deaths of Roland Barthes”. In The Work of Mourning. Ed. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Mann. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1981. 31-68.
–––––––. Memoires: For Paul de Man. Transl. Lindsay, Culler, Cadava, and Kamuf. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.
–––––––. The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe. Transl. Pascale-Anne Brault, Michael B. Naas. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press,  1992.
–––––––. Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money. Transl. Kamuf. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1992.
–––––––. The Politics of Friendship. Transl. George Collins. London and New York: Verso, 1994.
–––––––. The Gift of Death. Transl. Wills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,  1995.
–––––––. Of Hospitality. Transl. Rachel Bowlby. Stanford, SUP, 2000.
–––––––. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. London: Routledge, 2001
–––––––. Rogues: Two Essays on Reason. Transl. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005.
–––––––. “The Last of the Rogue States: The ‘Democracy to Come’, Opening in Two Turns”. In: Rogues: Two Essays on Reason. Transl. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005. 78-94.
Foucault, Michel. Naissance de la clinique. Paris: Gallimard, 1963.
Gide, André. "La Séquestrée de Poitiers" , in Ne jugez pas, Paris: Gallimard/NRF, 1969.
Goffman, Erving. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York: Anchor Books, 1991.
Lefebvre, Henri. Critique de la vie quotidienne. Paris: L'Arche, 1947.
Mann, Thomas. Der Zauberberg . Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1998.
Palladius. The Lausiac History [AD 423]. New York: Newman Press, 1998.
Pfaller, Robert. On the pleasure principle in Culture: Illusions without owners. London: Verso 2014.
Rabinowich, Julya. Spaltkopf: Roman. Wien: Deuticke Verlag, 2008.
Sassen, Saskia. The Global City. New York: Princeton Univ. Press, 2001.
Selvon, Sam. The Lonely Londoners. London: Penguin, 2006.
Stene-Johansen, Knut et al. (eds.). Å leve sammen. Roland Barthes, individet og fellesskapet. Oslo: Spartacus, 2016.
Taïa, Abdellah. L’Armée du Salut. Paris: Seuil, 2006.
Ugresic, Dubravka. The Ministry of Pain. London: Telegram, 2011.
Zola, Émile. Pot-Bouille , in Les Rougon-Macquart, Vol 3. Paris: Gallimard/Bibliothéque de la Pleiade, 1964. –––––––––. Pot Luck, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999.
See the “Living Together” course website, which will be updated continuously; keep checking back for updates. – Here are the most important details:
–– Course layout: We start the summer course with luncheon at 13:00 on Monday 14th Aug., then go on with a half-day (afternoon and early evening) programme that day; and then continue with full-day programmes both Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 17th Aug. Festive dinner offered on Thursday evening (on the organisers). Good-byes and departures after breakfast and before noon on Friday 18th.
–– Programme: “Living Together” is a combined keynote topic/plenary-discussion event, and a PhD paper-discussion course. There will be five Scandinavian/international keynotes on the programme, whose names and topics will be disseminated on the webiste as confirmations are in. Already now, though, we are happy to announce the first keynote, prof. Knut Stene-Johansen (Comparative Literature, University of Oslo), with whom the scholarly idea about “Living Together” originated, and who – with his Oslo-based research group – has already published a first project anthology: Knut Stene-Johansen et al. (eds.): Å leve sammen. Roland Barthes, individet og fellesskapet. Oslo: Spartacus, 2016 (to be transl. into and publ. also in English). – For the PhD paper-discussion sessions, the participants will be organised into relevant thematic groups, composed of PhD students as well as of TBLR/ESSCS-faculty and keynotes.
The detailed programme will be posted and disseminated when fully confirmed.
–– Time frames/duration/length: Keynotes are set up with 45-minute lectures, and the same amount of time allotted to the ensuing discussion. – PhD student-paper discussions are set up with a total time frame of 1 to 1,5 hours for each single one, in the course of which time up to 20 introductory minutes are allotted to the PhD student’s oral presentation/contextualisation of her/his paper, and the remaining time to a rich discussion between the PhD-student author, student peers, TBLR/ESSCS faculty, and keynotes, with comments, questions, further suggestions, etc. This structure – while all student papers are mandatory beforehand reading for all participants, thus leaving ample time for a rich discussion of the papers.
–– PhD student-paper topics: (1) a paper bearing a relation to some aspect or problem detailed or suggested in the ”Living Together” Call for Papers (Barthes; Agamben; and/or Derrida); (2) a paper stemming from the PhD student’s ongoing dissertation work, like a chapter, a section, an excerpt, a focus on a special problem, theoretical or other, lifted out of the dissertation-writing process for particular, critical attention, etc. – all of which with or without a relation to the CfP; (3) a paper presenting and critically discussing one or more of the works on the course’s reading list. – Bear in mind that inter-aesthetic and comparative as well as disciplinary papers are welcome. – Max length of paper: about 15 pp, 1,5 line spacing, Word: Times New Roman.
ECTS points for PhD students: 5 ECTS with a paper; 2 ECTS without.
–– Venue for the course as well as for all participants’ hotel rooms 14th-18th Aug. will be Hotel Scandic Neptun, downtown Bergen, one street removed from the historic wharf and the quayside. The hotel rooms (covered by the organisers throughout the duration of the summer-course), will be spacious double rooms, housing two PhD students in each (a summer-school room-mate system, which also creates an extra and contact-facilitating atmosphere).
–– Travel costs will have to be covered by the PhD students themselves or through the PhD-trajectory means that they themselves have at their disposal. Other than that, hotel rooms and full board (three meals a day) from Monday 14th at noon through Friday 18th Aug. at noon will be covered by the TBLR/ESSCS (the dinner on Wednesday is the exception: Wed’s dinner is open for each and every one to find another restaurant in the city, and on that particular evening pay their dinner themselves).
–– Application deadline (extended till late May) will be 26th May 2017 (to firstname.lastname@example.org), with max. 300 words paper abstract submitted at the same time. In your application, please state whether you require vegetarian or vegan meals.
–– Paper-submission deadline: 1st August 2017 (as attachment, to email@example.com).
–– Options for prolonged individual (tourist) stays in Bergen: This is a possibility – yet then, expressly, at the personal expense of the participant her/himself. This could be either during the week-end prior to, or during the week-end immediately following the “Living Together”-event: In the case that such prospective individual wishes would be for our venue hotel (Hotel Scandic Neptun), these queries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will then handle them vis-à-vis our Hotel (Neptun). – All other private-stay sojourns before and/or after the summer course – i.e. outside of Hotel Scandic Neptun – should be arranged by – and in that case, too: paid for by – the individual course participant her/himself.
Welcome to Bergen!