Instructor: Aranye Fradenburg
Course: Engl 236, Fall 2016
“Interaction is the conscious or unconscious exchange of behavioral or nonbehavioral, sensible and intelligible signs from the whole arsenal of somatic and extrasomatic [cultural, social and environmental] systems.”
– Fernando Poyatos, “Nonverbal Communication in Interaction: Psychology and Literature”
The purpose of this course is to broaden our understanding of the somatic and environmental features of expressive (and impressive) experience. Readings will draw primarily on the recent revitalization of interest in psychosomatics occasioned by neuroscientific developments in distributed cognition/affect, but will also include social-psychological studies in nonverbal communication (especially paralanguage), enactivist research, and biosemiotics. Authors will include Elizabeth A. Wilson (Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body and Gut Feminism); Brian Massumi (ed. A Shock to Thought: Expression After Deleuze and Guattari); Andy Clark (Supersizing the Mind); Giovanna Colombetti (The Feeling Body); Aleksandra Kostic and Derek Chadee (eds. The Social Psychology of Nonverbal Communication); Fernando Poyatos (Nonverbal Communication Across Disciplines and Crosscultural Perspectives in Nonverbal Communications); Marilia Aisenstein and Elsa Rappoport de Aisemberg (eds. Psychosomatics Today: A Psychoanalytic Perspective); Donald Favareau (ed. Essential Readings in Biosemiotics), and Daniel Paul Schreber (Memoirs of My Nervous Illness). If possible, students should have read Darwin’s Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals and Freud’s Studies in Hysteria before the class begins.
Image: “Fig. 9: Cat, savage and prepared to fight, drawn from life by Mr. Wood,” from Charles Darwin, The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals
Please join us for “Metamorphosis: Human, Animal, Armor,” an interdisciplinary conference on the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” Literature and the Mind director Julie Carlson is acting as convener, along with Elisabeth Weber (Germanic and Slavic Studies) and Wolf Kittler (Germanic and Slavic Studies); and L&M-affiliated faculty members Russell Samolsky and Kay Young will be participating in the conference’s opening panel. The conference will be held December 3-5; please see the conference’s official website for the official schedule, locations on campus, and details about participants, here.
From the conference’s official description: “On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s famous text “The Metamorphosis,” an interdisciplinary conference at UCSB brings together a wide array of scholars and artists to discuss Kafka’s text in its literary-historical context, and to read it as an exploration of metamorphoses that problematize borders between species and between living organisms and machines. Kafka’s text opens pressing questions in such fields as human and animal rights, old and new forms of warfare, art and technology: mimicry of animals in developments in drone warfare, bionics (exoskeletons), prostheses, and nano-technology, as well as digitally engineered perception through animal eyes.”
Image: Bronze Beetle, Greek, 750BCE, Yale University Art Gallery
Instructor: Aranye Fradenburg
Course: English 170BL, Winter 2016
Darwin argued that when animals experience emotion, they are experiencing bodily events (the corners of the mouth twitch, blood pressure rises). Expression is emotional experience, not what signifies it. Influenced by Darwin, Freud was convinced that mind and body were in some way of a piece: psychological distress could affect the body and also be caused, in part at least, by the body’s troubles. Since Freud’s time, many researchers, clinicians and theorists have doubted, sometimes even ridiculed, the existence of psychosomatic and somatopsychic phenomena. But times have changed again, and we are more and more prepared to believe, at minimum, that bodily and psychical experience co-construct one another. This course will begin with a sampling of Darwin’s writing on the emotions; with Freud and Breuer’s remarks on abreaction and catharsis in Studies in Hysteria; and with a contemporary study of Hysteria by Christopher Bollas, psychoanalyst (and former English Ph.D.) interested in the idea of a body that prepares to speak, developmentally and otherwise. In this part of the course we will also consider some examples of literature on “lovesickness.” Next, we will consider the embodied character of delusional experience, through Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memories of My Nervous Illness and Freud’s commentary thereon; selections from the works of Deleuze and Guattari and Massumi on schizophrenia and expression; and essays from the anthology Psychosomatics Today: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, which will introduce us to very recent work on these topics. The last part of the course will draw from the work of Elaine Scarry (The Body in Pain), Giovanna Colombetti (The Feeling Body) and Andy Clark (Supersizing the Mind), all important proponents of “distributed”/“extended” mind. The mind may be embodied, but it’s also extended well beyond the body, by means, for example, of written texts. How might we want to conceive of literary experience accordingly?
Image: Still from Chaplin, “Modern Times”
Image: Sam Durant’s “We Are the People” at Project Row Houses. Photo by Rick Lowe.
Below, you will find links to projects that intersect with our biennial theme, “Improvisation.” Feel free to browse and to add by emailing suggested materials to Rebecca Chenoweth or Julie Carlson.
Institutes and Societies
International Institute for the Study of Critical Improvisation (University of Guelph)
International Society for Improvised Music (see esp. “Words/Music/Images/Links”)
Art and Theater
Project Row Houses
Free Southern Theater
Fred Moten|A Wesleyan Reader’s Companion
Literary Hub: An Interview with Fred Moten, Part 1
“Do Black Lives Matter? Robin Kelley and Fred Moten”
Grisha Coleman’s “echo::system”
“echo::system on vimeo”
Philip Ringstrom, “Principles in Improvisation: A Model of Therapeutic Play in Relational Psychoanalysis”
“Dr. Phil Ringstrom on an improvisational mode of treatment,” You Tube
In The Atlantic, essayist Leslie Jamison reflects on the words of Virginia Woolf that shaped her view of bodies in literature. Jamison recalls struggling to represent the physical aftermath of surgery, fearing that “writing about bodily experience [is] somehow… the ultimate solipsism,” and ultimately finding solace in Woolf’s essay “On Being Ill.” Jamison connects Woolf’s essay, Elaine Scarry’s theory on pain and speech, and the works of Whitman and Faulkner to memories of her own discomfort in waiting rooms and creative writing classes. Ultimately, she concludes that “the surface of the body isn’t poverty; it isn’t lack,” and moreover, it can be a site of deep connection between authors and readers.
Read Jamison’s piece in full here.
Learn more about Jamison’s volume of nonfiction essays on bodies and others, The Empathy Exams, here.
Image by Doug McLean for The Atlantic.