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Titelbild TransHumanities 2020

Summer School 2021 – Abstracts Morning Lectures

Formal Material and the Feel of Violence

Prof. Dr. Eugenie Brinkema

How does the material of aesthetic form relate to the things, objects, and vibrant matter at the heart of the various material turns at work in the contemporary humanities? If the latter was an effort to move past the “all structure and no stuff” attributed to the linguistic turn, how might a resolutely radical conception of form reintroduce the problem of materiality in dialogue with formalism instead of opposed to it? This talk departs from the premise that both titular terms of the summer school—materiality and subjectivity—are best reapproached through a reading strategy that regards both as, principally, questions of form. This is illustrated by putting the materiality of the body and the limits of subjectivity to the test at an extreme site: an occasion of great violence. A reading of the 2007 French horror film À l’intérieur in relation to its navigation of seemingly disparate realms—the formal material of tempo, pacing, and rhythm, and a critical interest in the disenfranchised subjects of the Parisian banlieues—will suggest how the material of form opens up novel questions of subjective life under conditions of exclusion and restraint, questions that do not return us to a naive view of subjectivity but that expose subject positions as themselves basic formal material for the state.


Mandatory reading (available here):

  • Balibar, Étienne. “Uprisings in the Banlieues.” Constellations 14, no. 1 (2007): 47–71.
  • Brinkema, Eugenie.“Form.” In A Concise Companion to Visual Culture, edited by A. Joan Saab, Aubrey Anable and Catherine Zuromskis, 259–75. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2020.

Recommended reading (available here):

  • Brinkema, Eugenie. “(Nearly) Nothing to Express: Horror: Some Tread: A Toroid.” In How to Do Things with Affects: Affective Triggers in Aesthetic Forms and Cultural Practices, edited by Ernst van Alphen and Tomáš Jirsa, 82–99. Thamyris, Intersecting, volume 34. Leiden/Boston: Brill Rodopi, 2019.
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