Jane Bennett - Powers of the Hoard: Artistry and Agency in a World of Vibrant Matter
How can objects sometimes be vibrant things with an effective presence independent of the words, images, and feelings they may provoke in humans? This question is posed by Political theorist Jane Bennett delivers the inaugural lecture as the Vera List Center for Art and Politics embarks on a two-year exploration of "Thingness," the nature of matter. In the face of virtual realities, social media and disembodied existences, the center's programs will focus on the material conditions of our lives.
Jane Bennet is a professor of Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University. In her latest book Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Duke, 2010), she asks how our politics might approach public concerns were we to seriously consider not just our human experience of things but the things themselves. How is it that things can elide their status as possessions, tools, or aesthetic objects and manifest traces of independence and vitality? Following the tangled threads that link vibrant materialities, human selves, and the "agentic assemblages" they form, Bennett examines what hoarders, people who are preternaturally attuned to "things," can teach us about the agency, causality, and artistry in a world overflowing with stuff. Professor Bennet is a founding member of the journal Theory & Event, and is currently working on a project on over-consumption, new ecologies, and Walt Whitman's materialism.
*Location:Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:30 p.m.