Skip to Content

Structures of Change

«Back To Seminars

Organizer: Geronimo Sarmiento Cruz

Co-Organizer: Kirsten Ihns

Contact the Seminar Organizers

How is change structured? Or rather, under what terms can change be thought as structure at all? Does such a question require rethinking our conceptions of structure? Or of change?

Catherine Malabou and Sylvia Wynter might at first seem unlikely interlocutors, hailing as they do from differing traditions of thought. However, placing their work in dialogue offers new insights into the problem of how to conceptualize change in an era marked simultaneously by accelerating transformation and by institutional and economic stagnation. In their own distinct ways, Wynter and Malabou elaborate models that help us think and induce change. Either by attending to the performative character of our ways of being as a praxis susceptible to variation, or by adopting a formalism that perceives thought and reality as the ongoing movement, construction, and destruction of forms, Wynter and Malabou, respectively, conceptualize change as possible or quotidian. 

Their models differ in numerous ways, however, and it is at these points of divergence, friction, or paradox that we hope this seminar might locate itself. For example, both thinkers bring a biological angle to their work. What are the affordances and limitations of biological figures and framings in theorizing change? Another example: Wynter and Malabou both are interested in the question of how an “absolute,” “beyond,” or “outside” is configured: for Malabou, change is necessarily immanent; for Wynter, change can result from the interplay between an “inside” and an “outside.” Can change happen without an idea of a "beyond," "absolute," or "outside"? How does the (hypothesized) character of that "absolute" or "outside" inflect what kinds of mechanisms seem possible? What do we gain from using each model to generate a productive friction for the other or to see its limits? This seminar positions itself in and poses the question of the breach, meeting point, or overlap of these two structures of change, inviting proposals that explore the outcomes of setting these two thinkers in conversation. 

We invite papers considering similar questions and problems. Participants can engage Wynter and/or Malabou, but other approaches, models, or thinkers are equally welcome. We envision papers taking the form of critical interventions that consider literary, poetic, or aesthetic objects and/or issues. The focus of the seminar is the post-Deconstruction era, but we are interested in historical precedents and/or ways of thinking about change that might offer different perspectives on our own time.

«Back To Seminars