Guest Speaker: An Improvisation Practicum with Ann Randolph

Randolph

 

Wednesday, April 1, 5-8 PM

Sankey Room (South Hall 2623)

Join us for an evening with Ann Randolph, an award-winning playwright and sketch actor (Groundlings, The Midnight Show).  Ann will reflect on improvisation, healing, and everyday life (5-7 PM), and will lead us in some exercises to put this idea into practice (7-8 PM). This is an exciting opportunity to think about improvisation in terms of theater, writing, and pedagogy alongside an acclaimed playwright, spoken word artist, and sketch comedian.

Ann’s past workshops have covered comedy and storytelling in pain, approaches to writing, and modes of creativity.  Her solo show “Loveland” has won awards for “Best Solo Show” and “Best Original Script;” she has won the storytelling contest LA Moth; and, through her work with the Groundlings and other shows, she has performed in sketches alongside Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, and Thomas Lennon.  To learn more about Ann’s work as a writer, performer, and instructor in improvisation, please visit her website at annrandolph.com.

Ann’s visit is co-sponsored by the graduate students of Literature and the Mind, and the College of Creative Studies at UCSB.

Undergraduate Course: The Comic Turn of Mind

Still from "Some Like It Hot" (United Artists)

The art form that affirms survival, that makes happiness our business and hope not the gift of the lucky few but a turn of mind to be practiced and pursued is COMEDY. Comedy as a genre, comedy as a practice, comedy as a way of imagining will be the object and its frame of our study.
Primary texts by Aristophanes, Larry David, Billy Wilder, Menander, Shakespeare, Nichols and May.
Theory by: Aristotle, Eco, Freud, Bergson, Frye, and Young.

Image: Still from “Some Like It Hot” (United Artists)

Undergraduate Course: Memory: A Bridge Between Neuroscience and the Humanities

Salvador Dali, "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory," detail

Instructors: Dominique Julien (French and Comparative Literature) and Kenneth S. Kosik (Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology)

Course: Comp Lit 27, Winter 2015

Few things are more important than memory in shaping and defining human personality. Memory is what makes us humans. Memory and personality are inseparable (conversely, loss of memory, in cases like Alzheimer’s disease, destroys the patient’s personality). In recent decades, memory has emerged as one specific area of investigation common to neuroscience and the humanities where these two radically different methods of understanding reality occasionally converge. We propose to explore some of the key issues raised by memory processes as cases where the gap between the humanities and
neuroscience can be bridged.

Since Antiquity, memory has been a subject of interest to writers and philosophers. In recent years, neuroscientific progress has appeared to lend anatomical and clinical support to the literary descriptions left by Plato or Proust: what science is discovering or verifying today often seems to have been intuited and described in literary form in the past. One example would be the ancient memory techniques based on loci (literally places in the mind; this elaborate memory training system is known to us through rhetorical treatises from Antiquity to the Renaissance), whose patterns appear to converge with recent neuroscientific studies of memorization processes known as localization of function. Another example would be the correlation between memory and the senses, made famous by Proust’s philosophical novel Remembrance of Things Past, which has also developed into a key area of neuroscientific investigation.

Image: Salvador Dali, “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory” (detail)

Undergraduate Course: History of the Mind

M0001845 John Haygarth. Line engraving by W. Cooke, 1827, after J. H.

Instructor: Aranye Fradenburg

Course: English 170, Spring 2015

By “a history of mind,” I mean a history of thinking about the mind. Is it embodied, inspired, dispersed? How do minds understand each other? How do they shape their environments, including their cultural environments, and how are they shaped by them in turn? To find out how good minds from the past explored these questions, we will read Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul) and Poetics; Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex; St. Augustine’s Confessions, Book X; Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding; Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy; Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia,” and selections from The Interpretation of Dreams; all interspersed with various poems and commentaries from different eras. This course will give you a foundation for thinking about more particular histories of mind on topics like creativity, love, play, and madness.

Image: Aristotle, detail from “De Anima”

Norman Doidge on “The Brain’s Way of Healing”

Greg A. Dunn, "Cortical Columns"

Psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, MD (University of Toronto) will visit UCSB to discuss his new work on neuroplasticity in The Brain’s Way of Healing.  In his new publication, Doidge “describes how natural, non-invasive treatments–based on light, sound, vibration, and movement–can awaken the brain’s remarkable healing capacities.”  This free event takes place at 8 PM on Monday, February 2 in Campbell Hall, just after psychoanalyst Philip Ringstrom’s visit.  We hope you can join us for both exciting events.

Image: Greg A. Dunn, “Cortical Columns” (detail)

Guest Speaker: Ruth Leys on “Violence, Affect, and the Post-Traumatic Subject”

darwin pain

 

Thursday, January 15, 5:30 PM

McCune Conference Room, HSSB 6020

Ruth Leys (History, Johns Hopkins University) will visit UCSB for “an assessment of the latest twists in affect theory.”  This exciting talk, co-sponsored by the UCSB’s Graduate Center for Literary Research and Literature and the Mind, will address the following questions:

“If the twentieth century was the Freudian century, the century of libido, will the twenty first century-as has been suggested- be the century of the “post-traumatic” subject, whose affective indifference and profound emotional disengagement from the world mark him or her as a victim of brain damage? Will political, economic, and natural violence now take the form of a meaningless shock to the “emotional brain,” depriving victims of all meaning and affect? What are the stakes of such claims?”

Image: from Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals

Graduate Course: Affect Theory and Practice

Mamma Andersson, "Cry"

Instructor: Kay Young

Course: English 236, Fall 2014

How does literature feel? What creates its feelings states? What relation is there between literary feeling and human emotion?

Why is emotional understanding important—to our work as scholars, teachers, and humanists?

In this seminar, we’ll explore affect—its nature, meanings, presence, and significance to the study of the verbal arts—through neuroscience, contemporary psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literary theory.

Each seminar member will choose a literary work by any author, from any period, genre, nation about which s/he has strong feelings to read as an affect theory project at the seminar’s close.

We’ll bring selections from the “Affect/ Feeling/Emotion” section of the Literature and Mind Field List, as well as from:
Henry James’ *The Golden Bowl*, Joseph LeDoux’s *The Feeling Brain*, Antonio Damasio’s*The Feeling of What Happens*, Jaak Penksepp’s *Affective Neuroscience*, Alan Schore’s*Affect Regulation*, William James’ *The Principles of Psychology*, Donna Orange’s*Emotional Understanding*, Thomas Dixon’s *From Passion to Emotions*, essays David Miall and Don Kuiken, Martha Nussbaum’s *Love’s Knowledge* and/or *Upheavals of Thought*.

Image: Mamma Andersson, “Cry”

Graduate Course: Romantic Transport

Detail, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, "Psyche Transported to Heaven"

Instructor: Julie Carlson

Course: English 233, Winter 2015

How do we get from here to there and what does such movement signify?  What role does the aesthetic play in facilitating physical and mental movement, both desired and forced?   This seminar focuses on British and German Romantic-era texts that theorize and enact modes of embodied transport:  discourses regarding the sublime, imagination, metaphor, and the transporting capacities of art as well as texts depicting desired and forced transportation of bodies (slavery, emigration, urbanization, sexual experimentation). 

Most class sessions combine a Romantic-era theoretical text, a Romantic-era literary text, and a contemporary essay discussing a similar process in an effort to consider also how “romanticism” travels across times and places.  Readings include:  Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, P. B. Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, Anna Barbauld, England in Eighteen Hundred Eleven, William Blake, Visions of the Daughters of Albion,S. T. Coleridge, Christabel, Thomas Clarkson, On the Rise, Progress, and Abolition of the Slave Trade.  Contemporary readings include chapters from Doris Sommers, The Work of Art in the World, Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously, Robin Kelley, Freedom DreamsD. W. WinnicottPlay and Reality, Norman Holland, The Brain and Literature.

Sketch of a slave hold by Thomas Clarkson

Image 1: Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, “Psyche Transported to Heaven”

Image 2: Thomas Clarkson, “Description of a Slave Ship”