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Aesthetics, suffering, storytelling

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Time: 6.00pm - 7.00pm
Venue: Room JG2011, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
Price: free
Speaker(s): Meg Jensen and Jerome Boyd Maunsell

Aesthetics, suffering, storytelling

A Cultural Histories at Kingston fouble feature event with Meg Jensen and Jerome Boyd Maunsell.

Meg Jensen

Post-traumatic memory projects: autobiographical fiction and counter-monuments

In our age the categories of memory, monumentality, and truth telling are all far from stable. In the highly charged world of what Foucault termed ‘parrhesia' - a mode of free speech ‘linked to courage in the face of danger' - testimony can challenge a state's version of events and autobiographical fictions offer contexts through which trauma might be understood. This danger and instability has come to supersaturate concrete and textual representations of traumatic experience, and also to link the discourses with which these different renderings are debated. Such works function analogously as what Pierre Nora termed ‘lieux de memoire' that generate forms knowledge about the relations between truth, memory and memorial. I will examine how the seemingly distinct memory projects manifested in, for example, war memorials, autobiographical literature, and legal testimony have developed against and alongside a common set of problematic conceptual, linguistic and socio/political principles.

Jerome Boyd Maunsell

The pain of others: Susan Sontag, 9/11, and the ethics of reportage in words and images

How successfully do images and texts about war and suffering arouse our empathy and engage our imagination? How do ethics and aesthetics inter-relate and clash in such work? In her short, late essay-book Regarding the Pain of Others (2003) - a sequel, of sorts, to On Photography (1977) - Susan Sontag examines the dilemmas posed by contemplating images of suffering, death, and war, while also tracing a brief history of war reportage and its changing authenticity, censorship, and use of different media. Sontag's reflections on reportage were also a form of self-correction, after her abrasive public response to 9/11 in the New Yorker, provoked by having watched the event on television over several days from afar, in Berlin. This paper explores Sontag's complex personal and theoretical motives for writing Regarding the Pain of Others, and builds, more generally, on its focus on the different emotional and intellectual effects of literary, photographic, and televisual reportage.

A wine reception will follow in the Picton Room. All welcome.

For further information about this event:

Contact: Patricia Phillippy


Directions to Room JG2011, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE: