Political and cultural theorist Bonnie Honig to lecture Oct. 25

“Where’s your spine?” is often said to stiffen someone’s resolve, but what role do such metaphors play in the politics of “refusal” – the rejection of authority?

On Thursday, Oct. 25, at 4:30 p.m. in Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, Bonnie Honig will examine representations of refusal across texts and images, from “Antigone” to Leonardo da Vinci. Her talk, “Bartleby or the Bacchae? Toward a Feminist Theory of Refusal,” is sponsored by Cornell’s Society for the Humanities and will be followed by a reception at A.D. White House. The event is free and the public is invited.

Honig, the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor in the Departments of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science at Brown University, will examine the cultural assumption that refusal is associated with vertical postures, while inclining postures, in which the figure is leaning in, are associated with maternal care. She will draw on Italian feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero’s “Inclinations,” which theorizes an open, altruistic feminine subject in opposition to the upright masculine subject.

Honig works at the intersection of political theory and cultural studies. She focuses especially on “received scripts” – the afterlives in feminist theory, continental philosophy, film and popular culture, politics and public life of texts such as “Antigone.”

Her most recent book is “Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair.” Her many other books include “Antigone, Interrupted,” “Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy,” “Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics” and “Democracy and the Foreigner.”

Honig’s talk is hosted by the Society for the Humanities as part of its 2018-19 focus on “authority” and co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, both in the College of Arts and Sciences. As a Society for the Humanities Invited Scholar, Honig will present her recent work to the society’s fellows, as well as hold a seminar with graduate students on the topic of refusal in Melville’s story “Bartleby, the Scrivener.” Interested graduate students should email Emily Parsons.

Emily Parsons is program coordinator for the Society for the Humanities

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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