2015 Fall Event Schedule

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Lincoln Hall 1002

Modern Critical Theory Lecture Series

The Unit for Criticism's annual introductory lecture series on critical theory features lectures by Unit affiliates from across campus. Complete schedule here.

For more information, please email Susan Koshy, Ted Faust, or Roman Friedman.

Thursday, October 8
English Building, Lower Level Atrium

Graduate Student Info Night

Learn about opportunities for scholarship and research support offered by the Unit for Criticism, eat free food, and meet our staff.

Please RSVP by emailing Ted Faust or Roman Friedman.

Monday, October 19
Alice Campbell Alumni Center Ballroom

Author's Roundtable with Michael Javen Fortner, author of Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment

"Often seen as a political sop to the racial fears of white voters, aggressive policing and draconian sentencing for illegal drug possession and related crimes have led to the imprisonment of millions of African Americans - far in excess of their representation in the population as a whole. Michael Javen Fortner shows in this eye-opening account that these punitive policies also enjoyed the support of many working-class and middle-class blacks, who were angry about decline and disorder in their communities. Black Silent Majority lays bare the tangled roots of a pernicious system."


Ronald Bailey (African American Studies)

Margareth Etienne (College of Law)


Readings from Black Silent Majority:


Chapter 5

(to obtain the password to access the readings, please email Susan Koshy, Ted Faust, or Roman Friedman)

Monday, November 2
Illini Union, Room 104

2015 Unit for Criticism Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series

"Necessary Beasts: Making Humans in the Middle Ages"

Fall 2015 Unit for Criticism Distinguished Faculty Lecture by Eleonora Stoppino (Medieval Studies)

Opening remarks by Martin Camargo (Associate Dean for Humanities & Interdisciplinary Programs)

Introduction by Charles D. Wright (English/Medieval Studies)

Response by Craig Williams (Classics)

In the last decade the medical establishment, the mass media and the general public have linked the most frightening global epidemics with animal contagion. Mad cow disease, the avian —or so-called bird— flu, and, in very recent days, swine flu are clear examples of a shared terror of pandemics that can cross the boundaries between species and are, therefore, more dangerous and difficult to defeat. The fear that contagion can spread across the limit between humans and non-humans is so strong that these illnesses are named after animals, be they birds, cows, or pigs, even though they are not necessarily the vectors of infection. Such alarm, however, does not seem to be only a consequence of mysophobia or of the threat of animal contagion multiplying the occasions for contracting illnesses. If an “animal” can transmit its disease to a “human,” the identities of the species enter a destabilizing state of crisis.

The unstable boundary between species is at the center of the recent theoretical studies on animality, which have been probing the distinction between human and nonhuman. The path for these studies has been opened by Jacques Derrida’s essay “The Animal That Therefore I am,” and further explored by scholars such as Eric Santner, Donna Haraway, and Giorgio Agamben, among others. The paper engages crucial findings of Animal Studies in the context of late medieval theories of education and contemporary descriptions of contagion.