Also Happening . . . on Campus

We are excited to announce two talks taking place around the same time as the conference. Both are open to all; no prior registration is required. 

Martin E. Jay

Friday, Oct. 18, 9:45 a.m. – 12:00 noon | Conference Room, College of Liberal Arts

Professor Jay will deliver a public lecture on “Adorno and the Vicissitudes of Aesthetic Sublimation,” which will be followed by a conversation with local scholars on visual culture and aesthetic issues.

Abstract of Talk

Despite his endorsement of Critical Theory’s “marriage” of Freud and Marx, Adorno vehemently rejected the psychoanalytic interpretation of artistic creativity in terms of the sublimation of libido. Arguing that it depended on a dangerous spiritualization of legitimate corporeal demands, he deplored its tacit acceptance of prevailing cultural norms as the criterion of a “healthy” reconciliation of contradictions that could not be overcome by aesthetic means alone. It furthermore reduced the artwork to little more than a projection of the artist’s subjectivity rather than expressing its own objectivity, formal integrity and truth content.

Understood, however, as aesthetic transfigurations of prior cultural expressions that have lost their efficacy or experienced decline, sublimation was a far more congenial concept for Adorno. Here the emphasis was not on production or creation, but rather on reception and aesthetic experience, on the way in which sublimation can be a retrospective, rescuing operation, communal more than individual, in which historically exhausted cultural phenomena can endure, even find new life, in different discursive and institutional contexts. By focusing on several examples of this posterior cultural sublimation—most notably of once potent devotional objects now secularized as worthy of aesthetic appreciation and so-called “primitive” artefacts valued for their formal beauty rather than cult functions—Adorno affirmed the positive function of aestheticization as a place-holder for a possible future transfiguration of life.


Jui-Ch’i Liu (Professor, Graduate Institute for Studies in Visual Cultures, National Yang-Ming University)

**References in Prof. Liu’s talk include the following:

  • Martin Jay, “Magical Nominalism: Photography and the Re‐enchantment of the World” (Culture, Theory and Critique, vol. 50, no. 2-3, 2009, pp. 165-183)
  • Jui-Ch’i Liu, “Diane Arbus’s Halloween of Wonder: The Re-enchantment and Communitas of Women with Down’s Syndrome” (in Chinese, 〈荻安.阿勃斯的驚異萬聖節:唐式症女人的返魅與融聚〉,《國立臺灣大學美術史研究集刊》26期,2009年,頁93-134)

Hsien-hao Sebastian Liao (Distinguished Professor in Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and Dean of Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, National Taiwan University)

**Introduction & moderation by Chun-yen Chen (National Taiwan University)


Catherine Gallagher 

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Conference Room, College of Liberal Arts

Professor Gallagher, Emeritus Professor and Former Ida May and William J Eggers, Jr., Chair in English of UC Berkeley, will give a talk titled “Telling It Like It Wasn’t: An Interdisciplinary Look at Historical Counterfactual Speculation.”

Abstract of Talk

In it I will trace the history of what is often called “What if?” historical thinking from its eighteenth-century roots in religious debates, moral philosophy, and military sciences to its current applications in international relations, literature, and post-Cold-War historical justice movements. 

**Introduction by Ya-feng Wu (National Taiwan University)