Friday, April 14, 2017
Grucci Room, 102 Burrowes Building
On Friday, April 14, 2017, Margaret Schwartz (Fordham University) delivered a lecture titled “On Revolutionary Tenderness: Towards a Feminist Ethics of Care for the Digital Age.”
Description of presentation
What happens when we view care work as the foundation of a feminist ethics of care? What if we make it the bedrock of our theorization about living under a late capitalist culture of connectivity? We might then find ourselves with what the poet Francesca Lisette has called revolutionary tenderness — a theory of social change written out of the body in its most sacred function, care.
Margaret Schwartz is Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University. Her book Dead Matter: The Meaning of Iconic Corpses was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2015. This talk is taken from her ongoing work on embodiment, care, and materialist feminism, which will be published in the forthcoming collections Digital Existence and The Networked Self: Love. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and two children.
Description, from publisher’s Web site
“Taking as its starting point the significant role of the photograph in modern mourning practices — particularly those surrounding public figures — Dead Matter theorizes the connections between the body and the image by looking at the corpse as a special instance of a body that is simultaneously thing and representation. Arguing that the evolving cultural understanding of photographic realism structures our relationship to the corpse, the book outlines a new politics of representation in which some bodies are more visible (and vulnerable) in death than others.
“To begin interpreting the corpse as a representational object referring to the deceased, Margaret Schwartz examines the association between photography and embalming — both as aesthetics and as mourning practices. She introduces the concept of photographic indexicality, using it as a metric for comprehending the relationship between the body of a dead leader (including Abraham Lincoln, Vladimir Lenin, and Eva Perón) and the “body politic” for which it stands. She considers bodies known as victims of atrocity such as Emmett Till and Hamsa al-Khateeb to better grasp the ways in which the corpse as object may be called on to signify a marginalized body politic, at the expense of the social identity of the deceased. And she contemplates “tabloid bodies” such as Princess Diana’s and Michael Jackson’s, asserting that these corpses must remain invisible in order to maintain the deceased as a source of textual and value production.
“Ultimately concluding that the evolving cultural understanding of photographic realism structures our relationship to the corpse, Dead Matter outlines the new politics of representation, in which death is exiled in favor of the late capitalist reality of bare life.”
“In a deep, sophisticated, and riveting book, Margaret Schwartz shows us how corpses become focal points for collective meaning — in nation construction, in violence and martyrdom, and in the passion of fandom. In explaining how the dead circulate among the living, Dead Matter gives us the tools to better understand death as a social and communicative phenomenon, and, one hopes, build more thoughtful relations with the dead.” —Jonathan Sterne, author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format and The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction
“Dead Matter bridges important theorizations of death, the human corpse, and mediation. This book is a critical connecting point between seemingly disparate fields of study.” —John Troyer, Deputy Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath