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The problem of scale: Narrative universals in the human sciences

The humanistic disciplines are confronted, as never before, with problems of scale, scope, method, funding, and situation, whether these variables are inflected in sociopolitical or institutional terms. Even as the various models of funding that support higher education have to be revised following the new economic uncertainties and widespread global precarity unleashed by the downturn of 2008, we are also facing multiple attacks on the relevance of research and teaching in the humanities and even on the very ontology of the scholarly virtues and the good life. At the same time, the new knowledge revolutions from neuroscience to digital media to environmental science pose significant challenges as well as opportunities for the humanistic disciplines. This talk will examine the grounds for an epistemology in relation to a different time scale in the human sciences, one that can allow us to incorporate ecology, deep time, and technological change as transformative. It will discuss both the ideographic and nomothetic versions of the human sciences, through a discussion of significant thinkers including Braudel, Habermas, Lyotard, Chakrabarty, and others.

Srinivas Aravamudan was appointed dean of the humanities at Duke in July 2009. At Duke, he is Professor in the Departments of English, Romance Studies, and the Program in Literature. He directed the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute (2003-2009) and is president of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes from 2007-2012.

Speaker/Host: Professor Srinivas Aravamudan - Hosted by the Humanities Research Centre
Venue: Theatrette, Sir Roland Wilson Building, McCoy Circuit
Date: Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Time: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Enquiries: Leena Messina on 6125 4357
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