University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

November 30-December 1, 2012: Performing Enlightenment in the 21st Century – A Multidisciplinary Conference

November 30-December 1, 2012
125 Nolte Center for Continuing Education

The conference seeks to re-open a discussion on the Enlightenment in times of today’s economic crisis when the basic driver of the academe is the distribution of resources.

The propensity to avoid moral considerations and to restrict ourselves to issues of profit and loss—economic questions in the narrowest sense—however, is not instinctive. It is an acquired taste as Adam Smith and Marquis de Condorcet noted already in the eighteenth century. This being the case, the conference intends to historicize this propensity by investigating the Enlightenment anew (and, by extension, our situation today). Thus, how did we today come to think in exclusively economic terms? The fascination with an etiolated economic vocabulary did not come out of nowhere. On the contrary, we live in the long shadow of the debates which were initiated in the eighteenth century. By bringing together scholars in the field as well as the University of Minnesota students and faculty in the humanities and the arts/performance, this conference will create an open forum for the debate about the Enlightenment.

By bringing together scholars in the field of the Enlightenment/critical theory, the conference will create an open forum for the debate about the Enlightenment.  

Cosponsored by the Arts and Humanities Imagine Fund Chair, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.  

Schedule of Events

Friday November 30












Antonio Y. Vázquez-Arroyo, UMN: A Singular Enlightenment: Realism, Utopia, and the Dialectic of “Colonial Enlightenment”

Mita Choudhury, Purdue University Calumet: “Riot: A Brief Archeology of Scripted, Unscripted, and Chaotic Performances”


Durba Ghosh, Cornell University: “Was the Enlightenment the End of Revolutionary Political Violence? : the “Terror” and Anticolonial Terrorism Plotted in Historical Time”

Esther Leslie, Birkbeck, University of London: “Liquidity, Crystallinity, Light, of Abstractions and Distractions”

Max Pensky, Binghamton University: “More Life!”

Film screening: Shatranj Ke Khilari/The Chess Player

Saturday December 1

9:30 – 10:00


10:00 – 11:30

Tony C. Brown, English, U of M: “Negative Abstract Statelessness”

11:30 – 1:00

Keya Ganguly, CSCL, U of M: “Playing with History:  The Chess Players and Critical Reason”

1:00 – 2:00


2:00 – 3:30

Crystal Bartolovich, Syracuse University: “Yes, Bruno, there is a Capitalism”

3:30 – 5:00

Timothy Brennan, CSCL and English: “Green Misanthropy”

5:00 – 6:30

Roundtable, moderated by J.B. Shank, History, U of M

6:30 – 8:00


Concluding Roundtable

This talk is also available as an audio download (.mp3 – 48.0 MB) or as a video podcast (.m4v – 273.0 MB).

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  1. elke weesjesNovember 14, 2012 at 5:23 pmReply

    Is there someone I can contact about this conference? I would love to be able to ask the organisers some questions.
    I hope to hear from you soon.
    Elke Weesjes

    • Aaron Victorin-VangerudJanuary 13, 2014 at 6:43 pmReply

      Forgive my late response, but the organizer is Michal Kobialka.

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