Summer School

The 22nd International Summer School in Cultural Studies will be organized in 2020. This page contains information on the previous Summer School (2018).

SCAPEGOATS, VIOLENCE, AND MIMETIC THEORY

21st INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL IN CULTURAL STUDIES

University of Jyväskylä, Finland, June 4−5, 2018

Society for Cultural Studies in Finland and the Research Centre for Contemporary Culture

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SYMPOSIUM: SCAPEGOATS, VIOLENCE, AND MIMETIC THEORY

University of Jyväskylä, Finland, June 4, 2018

As part of ”SCAPEGOATS, VIOLENCE, AND MIMETIC THEORY – 21st Summer School in Cultural Studies” the Society for Cultural Studies in Finland is pleased to announce a symposium to be held on 4 June 2018 at the University of Jyväskylä. The symposium consists of two public lectures by the teachers of the Summer School, Tiina Arppe and Hanna Mäkelä (University of Helsinki). The symposium is free of charge and open to all.

Location: Educa Building, room D 304

Program:
12:00-12:15 Opening words
12:15-13:15 Tiina Arppe: The Three Desires of René Girard
13:15-14:15 Hanna Mäkelä: The ’Novelistic Truth’ Implied: Girard´s Mimetic Theory from a Narratological Perspective

Tiina Arppe: The Three Desires of René Girard

René Girard’s theory of culture is based on his postulate concerning the mimetic nature of human desire. However, as I will argue, there are three different desires at work in Girard’s oeuvre. The first one, dominating his literary theory, is based on a Kojève-inspired interpretation of Hegel, where consciousness and its mirror-like structure stand at the forefront; the second one, characterizing Girard’s theory of religion, is heavily impregnated with the idea of affective violence and constructed in explicit opposition to Freud; the third one, at work in his theory of cultural evolution, emphasizes the automatic or reflexive nature of desire, connecting human behavior with what’s observed in other primates. Are we dealing with the same desire in each case? And more importantly still, what are the consequences of these differing focuses for the analysis of culture?

Hanna Mäkelä: The ’Novelistic Truth’ Implied: Girard´s Mimetic Theory from a Narratological Perspective

René Girard’s “mimetic theory,” with its sweeping anthropological ambitions and boldly multi-disciplinarian overtures have made him a force to be reckoned with in contemporary philosophy and cultural studies – as well as the human sciences in general. However, these same characteristics have alienated many scholars who feel he is too universalizing and reductionist in his emphasis on content over form.
Nowhere is this criticism more strongly felt than in literary studies where it has resulted in either casual dismissal or complete silence. Girard’s ideal narrative outcome (i.e. the ‘novelistic truth’, or the subject’s overcoming imitative rivalry as the plot unravels) would appear to be a thought-provoking question for narrative theorists. However, only few of them (Ross Chambers, Amit Marcus) have bothered to probe the implications Girard’s novelistic analysis has on concepts like story and discourse ( Genette, Chatman), or the implied author (Booth, Phelan).

This paper will explore the hitherto largely untapped narratological possibilities of Girard’s mimetic theory by close-reading two late-twentieth-century Anglophone novels, Sula (1973) by Toni Morrison and Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. These novels deal with the very Girardian themes of friends becoming rivals and the community erupting in violence. Also, through the juxtaposition of story events and the narrative treatment of these events, the novels imply at ethical and spiritual ideals that are not necessarily realized in the plot outcomes, but that are nevertheless desired on an (implied) authorial level.

Lecturers:

Tiina Arppe is adjunct professor in Sociology specialized in French social theory. In her scientific publications, she has studied problematics related to the sacred, community, and affect in the work of Rousseau, Durkheim, Bataille, Baudrillard, and Girard. Her major works include Pyhän jäännökset (Tutkijaliitto 1992), Affectivity and the Social Bond (Ashgate 2014), and Uskonto ja väkivalta. Durkheimin perilliset (2016). Currently, in a project funded by Kone Foundation, Arppe looks into the connections of economy and death in French social theory. Arppe has also translated French theory classics as well as for example Thorsten Veblen’s The Leisure Class into Finnish.

Hanna Mäkelä is University Lecturer of Comparative Literature (fixed term) at the University of Helsinki where she took her PhD, which was co-supervised at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, in 2014. Her doctoral thesis, Narrated Selves and Others: A Study of Mimetic Desire in Five Contemporary British and American Novels, combines René Girard’s philosophical anthropology with the field of narratology in order to demonstrate how Girard’s mimetic theory can be employed as a narrative poetics of its own in the context of more mainstream literary studies.

Summer School: https://kultut.fi/summer-school/

The 21st Summer School in Cultural Studies is organized by the Society for Cultural Studies in Finland in collaboration with the Center for Contemporary Culture at the Department of Music, Art and Culture (University of Jyväskylä).

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EXTENDED DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: MARCH 15

In the present times, the media landscape is loaded with representations of violence in which a group attacks another group or an individual. Also, venomous and inculpatory ways of speaking are common especially in social media such as Twitter. Understanding violence in a broad sense, the increase of hate speech and the strong presence of violence in the media as well as popular culture challenge interpretations of the decrease of violence in the present times. Rather, it could be proposed that the ways of violence have multiplied as it nowadays entails also various forms of verbal, indirect or latent as well as mediated forms of violence. Occasionally violence also seeps into practices that at first glance seem to be fighting against it.

Although the phenomena described above vary from direct violence to aggressive ways of commenting on it, a common factor can be pointed, i.e. scapegoat mechanism. Scapegoat mechanism occurs when a community or a group of people seeks release of its violent tensions by projecting them into a victim chosen from the margins of the community that the group believes to be the origin of its anguish. However, being innocent of the actual cause of the group’s hostile feelings, the victim is a surrogate victim i.e. a scapegoat. René Girard’s mimetic theory serves as a frame for studying scapegoat mechanism. According to Girard, violence touches everybody as it is the side effect of universally operating mimetic desire which leads to mimetic rivalry and violent tensions that seek their release through scapegoat mechanism, as well as sacrificial rituals, its mimetic siblings. As a tool for the regulation of violence, scapegoat mechanism is of course paradoxical as it operates through violence thus producing violence at the same time as it aims at preventing its escalation.

In the 21st summer school of cultural studies the approach to the topic is multidisciplinary. The research may focus for example on a media text, online discussion, television series, or a literary work. Methodologically, various analytic tools may be applied such as discourse analysis, ethnography, narratology, and semiotics. Especially pivotal in Girard’s theory in this context are the questions connected to scapegoats and violence but perspectives focusing more generally on mimetic desire, violence, crisis, sacrifice, or religion are welcome as well. The topics to be explored include: scapegoats and media, scapegoats and politics, religion and scapegoats, mimesis of violence, mimetic desire and violence, gender and scapegoat mechanisms, and scapegoats and literature/art. Also, the core questions can be approached from other theoretical perspectives such as in the contexts of the work of Marcel Mauss, Maurice Halbwach, or Georges Bataille. Like Girard’s, their thinking can be traced back to the legacy of Émile Durkheim.

The summer school addresses the questions of scapegoats, violence, and mimetic theory through lectures and seminar presentations based on the latest research. Acknowledged experts serve as teachers, and they will deliver open lectures on the topic, and provide commentary on and feedback to the student papers presented. The Summer School is a three-day intensive period of supervising doctoral candidates and discussing research projects in a multidisciplinary group, within the joint framework of cultural studies in a broad sense of the term.

All papers will be commented upon and discussed by the distinguished summer school teachers:

Tiina Arppe is adjunct professor in Sociology specialized in French social theory. In her scientific publications, she has studied problematics related to the sacred, community, and affect in the work of Rousseau, Durkheim, Bataille, Baudrillard, and Girard. Her major works include Pyhän jäännökset (Tutkijaliitto 1992), Affectivity and the Social Bond (Ashgate 2014), and Uskonto ja väkivalta. Durkheimin perilliset (2016). Currently, in a project funded by Kone Foundation, Arppe looks into the connections of economy and death in French social theory. Arppe has also translated French theory classics as well as for example Thorsten Veblen’s The Leisure Class into Finnish.

Hanna Mäkelä is University Lecturer of Comparative Literature (fixed term) at the University of Helsinki where she took her PhD, which was co-supervised at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, in 2014. Her doctoral thesis, Narrated Selves and Others: A Study of Mimetic Desire in Five Contemporary British and American Novels, combines René Girard’s philosophical anthropology with the field of  narratology in order to demonstrate how Girard’s mimetic theory can be employed as a narrative poetics of its own in the context of more mainstream literary studies.

Mäkelä is currently working on a postdoctoral monograph on the subject of inner change in narrative film. She has published the following peer-reviewed articles:  “Horizontal Rivalry, Vertical Transcendence: Identity and Idolatry in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History” (The Poetics of Transcendence, Rodopi / Brill, 2015), “Player in the Dark: Mourning the Loss of the Moral Foundation of Art in Woody Allen’s Match Point” (Turning Points. Concepts and Narratives of Change in Literature and Other Media, de Gruyter, 2012) and “Imitators and Observers: Mimetic and Elegiac Character Relationships in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved” (Genre and Interpretation, 2010, the University of Helsinki Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies / The Finnish Graduate School of Literary Studies).

 

HOW TO APPLY

Please send your application by Thursday, March 15, 2018 to

minna.m.nerg[at]jyu.fi

Or by post to

Kulttuurintutkimuksen seura
PL 35
40014 Jyväskylän yliopisto

Society for Cultural Studies in Finland
P.O. Box 35
FI-40014 University of Jyväskylä
Finland

Your application should include

  1. An abstract of 500 words, based on the paper you will be presenting.
  2. A short presentation of yourself and your research topic with its theoretical orientation, methods, and materials.

The applicants will be notified of the decision shortly after March 15.

Deadline for papers is Monday, May 21. Length of the papers is 10–15 pages. More information on them will be sent out later.

There is a participation fee of 100 euros per person. Fee covers coffee/tea and snacks during the seminar.

For more information e-mail minna.m.nerg[at]jyu.fi (or eeva.rohas[a]jyu.fi), phone +358 (0)50 599 8842, or visit http://kultut.fi.

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