Indiana University Bloomington


(For an archive of events, see here)


Spring 2017


Struggling for Life. A Constellation of Events

Convener: Edgar Illas (Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese)

Jan Mieszkowski (Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Reed College), "Death Sentences."

Friday, February 24, 2017, time and place TBA

Abstract: In his seminar on the death penalty, Jacques Derrida maintains that modern literature has offered challenges to the legitimacy of capital punishment whereas philosophy has not. In this talk, I examine the conceptions of language and life that inform this claim by considering “I sentence you to death” as the paradigmatic literary speech act. Focusing on texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Gertrude Stein, I explore a grammar of mortality that cannot be assimilated into the reigning models of biopolitics.

Jan Mieszkowski is the author of Labors of Imagination: Aesthetics and Political Economy from Kant to Althusser (Fordham, 2006) and Watching War (Stanford, 2012). His recent articles explore a variety of topics in Romanticism, Modernism, and critical theory. He has also published and lectured widely on military spectatorship and the spectacles of the permanent war economy. Mieszkowski is currently completing a new book called Crises of the Sentence.



Symposium with Timothy Campbell (Romance Languages, Cornell University) and Adam Sitze (Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College). Friday, March 31, 2017. Details to follow.


Lecture by Banu Bargu (Politics, New School for Social Research). Friday, April 14, 2017. Details to follow.


Grateful acknowledgement is made to the College Arts & Humanities Institute at Indiana University for supporting the events in the series "Struggling for Life."

For older events, see here.