Tag Archives: human nature

Lecture: Foucault and Sexual Freedom

Russell House lecture tonight with Jana Sawicki, Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Williams College. Part of this semester’s Center of the Humanities lecture series on human nature:

In an interview conducted just before his death in 1984, Michel Foucault suggested that homosexual activists might advance sexual freedom by turning away from the discourse of sex-desire and exploring the possibilities opened up within an ethics of pleasure. Cultivating pleasure, he claimed, was more likely to enhance sexual freedom than appeals to the trope of “desiring man.”

Professor Sawicki asks, what is the ontological status of the pleasures that Foucault invokes? Why turn to an ethics of pleasure? Finally, why refuse the discourse of desire? Insofar as queer theorists (Judith Butler, Leo Bersani, Michael Warner) rely heavily upon psychoanalytic theory, they appear to have rejected Foucault’s sustained critique of the discourse of desire. Are there good reasons to be wary of this reliance upon psychoanalytic thought? Or, must we burn Foucault?

Date: Monday, November 3
Time: 8-9:30 pm
Place: Russell House – Millett Room, free

Lecture: Emily Martin on Sleep

Emily Martin, Professor of Anthropology at NYU, is coming to Wes tomorrow to talk about sleep in our modern age. Part of the “Figuring the Human” lecture series sponsored by the Center for the Humanities:

Exploring historical and ethnographic materials from the U.S. since WW II, Professor Martin’s illustrated lecture explores how and why sleep has recently become a complex management project dependent on discipline and attention. Even dreaming (for Freud, a chance to hear the unconscious) has become an activity that can be optimized for increased productivity.

Research from American public health experts and sleep scientists together with incitements from the bedding industry and the pharmaceutical industry have contributed to making American sleep an enterprise that demands continuous labor rather than providing sore labour’s bath.

Date: Monday, October 6
Time: 8-9:30 pm
Place: Russell House – Millett Room

The place of humans in Creation

John Hall of the Jonah Center will be giving a talk titled “Made From the Dirt: The place of humans in creation” on Thursday:

John Hall, Director of the Jonah Center for Earth and Art and Minister at First Church of Christ, Congregational, will offer some thoughts to spark a conversation about human nature, including our tendencies to form tribes, innovate, cheat, aspire to ideals, and feel compassion. What are the prospects for successful adaptation to the human-caused ecological crisis? What is the basis for hope?

Date: Thursday, April 3
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Earth House (159 High St.)