Great Texts / Big Questions

  1. Professor Herwitz, Director of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, USA is currently Mellon Visiting Research Fellow at UCT. He is the author of ‘Star as Icon’, about the creation of this media persona from the joint forces of film, television, tabloid and consumer society. He has written numerous other books, short fiction and a book of essays about the South African transition ‘Race and Reconciliation’. He is a highly respected speaker and commentator on art, politics and the media.

    In his Great Texts / Big Questions lecture Herwitz says he will explore “how the media are shifting the terms of democracy in America and elsewhere. The media are now a central, if not intrusive part of the American political landscape and have been since the fatherly fireside chats of President Roosevelt. The media formulate canons for debate, in many ways control the flow of information, and turn presidents into, celebrities.

    “Most American youths get their news from late night comedy programs, meaning they find news palatable only if presented in the form of personal ad lib and entertainment. This elevation of the candidate to celebrity, stardom, talk show intimacy all at once causes the political process to become unpredictable, since no one can control how the public will levitate its candidates, nor where its feet will remain firmly planted on the ground. As a philosopher writing about aesthetics I will explore this public propensity to levitate in terms of the formation of the star and celebrity through the combined forces of film, television, tabloid, and consumer society.”

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  2. Written by Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita was first published in Paris in 1955. It is one of the best-known and most controversial books of 20th Century literature. Coovadia says: “I'll be talking about the Lolita problem. How do we respond to a book which is a first person narrative by a man who is trying to seduce a 12 year old girl after marrying her mother? Nabokov promises us readers "bliss"? Well, what sort of bliss? Is there a "lesson" in reading Lolita and why has Nabokov described it as the most moral of his novels?”

    Imraan Coovadia is an Associate Professor in UCT’s English Department. He has written many stories, essays and book reviews, as well as three novels--The Wedding, Green-Eyed Thieves, and, in 2009, High Low In-Between. Coovadia has worked extensively on Adam Smith, George Eliot, and V.S. Naipaul. He is currently studying the Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita.

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  3. Futures of Nature/Facts that Matter is hosted by The Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA), in collaboration with the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC) and The University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI).

    Convened by cultural commentator and critic Sarah Nuttall (University of Stellenbosch), this discussion will include leading international academics Cori Hayden, Ackbar Abbas, Dick Hebdige, Karim Makdisi, Achille Mbembe and David Goldberg.

    The dualism between humans and nature has been a defining characteristic of modernity, alongside the incorporation of the world into global markets and the attendant production of waste on a scale never seen before. Yet there is a growing recognition that the rate of change of natural processes is shrinking towards the time scales of human society. The time lines of nature are now converging with those of society in a mutual lockstep.

    This panel will discuss questions such as to what extent is the convergence of social and natural time opening up to possible disasters in the future? What are the implications of this foreshortening of social and natural time for artistic and aesthetic experimentation, new modes of politics and broader issues of equity and justice?

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Great Texts / Big Questions


Lecture series organised by GIPCA, the Gordon Institute for the Performing and Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, South Africa

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