UAM PANEL DISCUSSION
Confronting the Exquisite Corpse: the Grotesque in Contemporary Culture
Thursday, December 5, 7pm
Location: West End of the Horn Center at the back entrance to the University Art Museum
In conjunction with the exhibition Gabe Bartalos: Abhorrence and Obsession, the University Art Museum is hosting a cross-disciplinary conversation about the role of the grotesque in contemporary culture. Dr. Nhora Serrano, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, will moderate the panel. Our distinguished panelists include, Dr. Karen Kleinfelder, Professor of Art History, Dr. Mary Caputi, Professor of Political Science, and Dr. Jeffrey High, Professor of German Studies. These scholars have expertise in related areas of study that will bring multiple perspectives to the discussion.
The grotesque has a long history in film, literature and the visual arts, and has proliferated in popular culture through the explosion of graphic novels, video games and the horror film genre. Why is there such a strong fascination with the abject? In the preface to his play Cromwell, Victor Hugo wrote, "The ugly exists beside the beautiful, the unshapely beside the graceful, the grotesque on the reverse of the sublime, evil with good, darkness with light.” From Hugo’s perspective, the grotesque is necessary. The panel will address this question and more in a discussion of contemporary cultures’ fascination with the abject.
Please join us for a stimulating and thought provoking discussion and light refreshments.
Panel Moderator Nhora Lucía Serrano is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at California State University, Long Beach, where she teaches courses on comics, Art and Literature, Medieval Studies, Latin America, and literary theory. She is the co-editor, with Janelle A. Schwartz, of Curious Collectors, Collected Curiosities: An Interdisciplinary Study (2011), and her article “LACMA’s Gambit: In Wonderland’s Surrealist Women” was recently published in X-Tra Contemporary Art Quarterly (Winter 2012). She is now finishing her book Medieval Iberian Visuality: The Alfonsine Scriptorium’s Wartime Critique where she examines Iberian reportage, especially the relationship between the political image and its sociopolitical commentary in Alfonso X, el Sabio’s illuminated manuscripts, as precursors to the early political cartoon. She has recently won a Smithsonian National Postal Museum Scholarship for her project “Commemorating the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair: The Columbian Exposition and the First Souvenir Postal Cards.” In the spring 2014 she will be a Visiting Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard University.
Jeffrey L. High received his PhD in Modern German Literature from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is Professor and Chair of German Studies at California State University Long Beach. He is the author of Schillers Rebellionskonzept und die Französische Revolution (2004), the editor of Schiller’s Literary Prose Works: New Translations and Critical Essays (2008), the co-editor of Who is this Schiller Now? (2011) and Heinrich von Kleist: Artistic and Political Legacies (2013). He has published articles on Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich von Kleist, Thomas Mann, and Gothic Literature, including publications in the Zeitschrift für Germanistik, Jahrbuch für internationale Germanistik, Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schiller-Gesellschaft, The Literary Encyclopedia, Die Unterrichtspraxis, and the Goethe Yearbook, and is currently working on a book project entitled Parallel Pursuits: Thomas Jefferson, Friedrich Schiller, and the Philosophy of Happiness. After Modern German literature, his most serious area of expertise is Horror Films.
Mary Caputi, Ph.D., is professor of political theory in the Department of Political Science at California State University, Long Beach. She writes and teaches in many areas of contemporary political thought, including feminism, critical theory, psychoanalysis, and postmodernism. She is the author of three books, Feminism and Power: the Need for Critical Theory (Lexington, 2013) A Kinder, Gentler America: the Mythical 1950s (Minnesota, 2005) and Voluptuous Yearnings: A Feminist Reading of the Obscene (Rowman and Littlefield, 1994). Along with Vincent Del Casino, Jr., she is also the co-editor of Derrida and the Future of the Liberal Arts (Continuum, 2013), and the author of numerous articles. Now at California State Univesity, Long Beach, she has also taught at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and at Colby College.
Karen L. Kleinfelder, Ph.D., confides, "It seems that I have given the best years of my life to a dead artist: Picasso.” She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1989, and wrote her Honors undergraduate thesis, masters thesis, and dissertation on various aspects of Picasso’s art. Her published writings include The Artist, His Model, Her Image, His Gaze: Picasso’s Pursuit of the Model and Essays in Picasso: Inside the Image and Fingering Ingres. Karen’s interests go beyond Picasso, however. She has taught seminars on Surrealism and gender, Bataille’s informe,mind/body/cyborg, and real places/imaginary spaces. She puts theory into practice by having her class curate an exhibition in conjunction with each seminar. She is an art historian at home in a studio crit as much as in the slide room, and she thrives bestwhen art history crosses disciplines and performs in unruly, hybrid ways.
This panel was developed by UAM Curator of Education, Brian Trimble in collaboration with Dr. Beth Manke of the Department of Human Development. The program was made possible by generous contributions from the Instructionally Related Activities Fund and a College of Liberal Arts Scholarly Intersections Grant.