The UW-L English Department's last colloquium presentation of the Fall 2016 Semester is from 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Friday Dec 9. Dr. Kimberly DeFazio will present "'The World without Us': Melancholia, Posthumanism and the Erasure of Class":
Whether depicted as hurricanes, species extinction, factory farming, economic crisis, terrorism, or extra-terrestrial invasion – the catastrophic event now figures prominently in a wide range of culture and cultural theory. In her paper, English Department faculty member Dr. Kimberly DeFazio addresses the way posthumanist theory in particular has come to treat catastrophes as events beyond reason, as signs of the fundamental crisis of human rationality and the danger of conceptual knowledge. To develop her analysis, she focuses on Lars von Trier’s film Melancholia and Percy Shelley’s poem “The Triumph of Life” and how they are interpreted by such posthumanist writers as Alain Badiou, Steven Shaviro and Paul de Man, for whom envisioning what Eugene Thacker calls “the world-without-us” (In the Dust of this Planet) is the basis of a new planetary ethics. While such readings aim to challenge instrumentalism and to highlight the need for new ecological thinking in a global world, the cultural turn toward posthumanism, the paper proposes, not only makes it impossible to understand the material causes of disasters, it also erases the social structures of daily life that privilege the lives of the few over the lives of the many.