Lecture: “Fascism and the Sacred” at Russell House

Professor Dominick LaCapra lectures at Russell House on Monday night:

“Fascism and the Sacred: Sites of Inquiry After (or Along With) Trauma”

Where does one go after the recent surge in trauma studies? Instead of rehearsing what has already been extensively discussed with respect to trauma, or applying trauma studies to another text, we may have reached a point where problems can be addressed without always ringing the trauma bell. In History and Its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence (2009), Professor LaCapra extensively discussed the relevance of trauma in a variety of areas, including the study of the Nazi genocide or the “final solution”. His Center lecture pursues that inquiry, touching especially on the way the potentially shattering experience of trauma may either be averted or transfigured through a form of sacralization or sublimation, specifically in the case of certain perpetrators. He will investigate, within the larger framework of the relations between fascism and the sacred, the role of Nazism as a civil or political religion, which takes the form of “redemptive anti-Semitism” in the work of Saul Friedländer. The lecture aims to elucidate further the problem of genocidal motivation and its relation to a redemptive, at times quasi-sacrificial, in some sense “postsecular” animus in at least certain Nazi perpetrators.

Dominick LaCapra is Bryce & Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies at Cornell University where he has taught since 1969. An intellectual historian with wide-ranging theory interests in postmodernism, critical theory, holocaust studies, aesthetics and psychoanalysis, Professor LaCapra is author of a dozen books including Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language (1983), History, Politics, and the Novel (1987), Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma, History (1994) and Reading: Tocqueville, Foucault, French Studies (2000), History and Memory after Auschwitz (1998), History in Transit: Experience, Identity, Critical Theory (2004), and History and its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence (2009). He received his BA from Cornell University and PhD from Harvard University.

Date: Monday, April 5
Time: 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Place: Russell House