Indiana University Bloomington

Spring 2014: Schedule of the Reading Group

"Style, Ethos, Image"

Conveners: Michel Chaouli (German) and Andrew Miller (English)

The reading group meets Fridays, 2 - 3:30 pm, in the College Arts & Humanities Institute, 1211 E. Atwater Ave., except where noted otherwise.

Jan. 24: Merleau-Ponty, “Cézanne’s Doubt
Jan. 31: Merleau-Ponty, “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence
Feb. 7: Merleau-Ponty, “Eye and Mind
Feb. 15, 2:15 pm, IMU Oak Room: Hubert Damisch, Origin of Perspective, Chpt 2 (with Taylor Carman)
Feb. 21: Barthes, Camera Lucida, Part I
Feb. 28: Barthes, Camera Lucida, Part II
Mar 7: Cavell, The World Viewed, 1 – 3
Mar 28: The World Viewed, 4 – 8
Apr 4: The World Viewed, 9 – 12
Apr 11: Reading group does not meet. Boris Groys lecture at 4.
Apr 18, 10 - 11:30: The World Viewed, 13 – 14
Apr 25: The World Viewed, 15 – 17
May 2: The World Viewed, 18 – 19


The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, ed. Galen Johnson (Northwestern UP, 1993).

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, trans. Richard Howard (Hill & Wang, 1982).

Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, Enlarged Edition (Harvard UP, 1979).

The Reading Group constitutes the intellectual heart of the Center and predates the Center by many years. Here are some of the major texts the group has studied:

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
Badiou, Being and Event.
Bergson, Matter and Memory.
Cavell, The Claims of Reason.
Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.
Deleuze, Cinema I; Difference and Repetition.
Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject.
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Gadamer, Truth and Method.
Heidegger, Being and Time.
Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences.
Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception; The Visible and the Invisible.
Plato, The Laws.
Rancière, The Names of History.
Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf.

Style, Ethos, Image

Merleau-PontyThis Spring, the Center devotes itself to an intensive study of style, understood not solely as a style of writing (or of painting, of playing music, of dancing, etc.), but as a far broader phenomenon related to tone, mood, voice, tact, temper, and ethos. What posture or attitude do we adopt towards our objects of inquiry?

We’ll read three writers all of whom found themselves pressed by the nature of their interest both to address style and to enact a markedly distinctive style: Maurice Merleau Ponty, Roland Barthes, and Stanley Cavell. Their writing on visual topics—painting, photography, and film—will be our main focus. This focus derives in part from the interests of the Barthesspeakers who will join us in two symposia, but also from our curiosity about the distinctive effects that writing on non-verbal objects have for what we are calling style.

At the outset of Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau Ponty remarks that “phenomenology can be practiced and identified as a manner or style of thinking.” We plan to trace his conception of style—understood as a manner of being in the world--through three of his essays and passages from other writtings: “Cezanne’s Doubt” (1945), “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence” (1952), and the last work published during his life, “Eye and Mind” (1961).

Barthes’ Camera Lucida (1980) attempts to understand the nature of photography and, at the same time to commemorate CavellBarthes’ mother, who had recently died. Both efforts, apparently, required that he assess the nature of his engagement. “I make myself the measure of photographic “knowledge,” Barthes writes and asks, “What does my body know of photography?”

Cavell’s The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film (1971) emerged out of a seminar he taught and attempts to understand not only the nature of film but also the nature of Cavell’s relationship to it. It is, he remarks, “a kind of metaphysical memoir—a story of the “natural relation” he once had to movies and the breaking of that relation. “What was that relation, that its loss seemed to demand repairing, or commemorating, by taking thought?”