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Humanities on the Edge presents Claire Colebrook

Date: Time: 5:30 pm–7:00 pm
Sheldon Museum of Art Room: Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium
Additional Info: SHEL
Contact: Marco Abel, mabel2@unl.edu
“What would you do (and who would you kill) in order to save the world?: Post-Apocalyptic Cinema and Extinction.”

Claire Colebrook (http://english.la.psu.edu/faculty-staff/cmc30) is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Philosophy, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University.

Lecture abstract:
It might appear, at first glance, that post-apocalyptic culture has intensified as a response to the growing awareness of climate change and other existential threats (such as viral pandemic, resource depletion and runaway artificial intelligence). If we accept that premise then it might also make sense to assume that the problem of resilience becomes urgent and far more focused and attuned to survival at a global level – not just the maintenance of specific systems but saving the world in general. In this lecture, I will argue that the contrary is the case, and that post-apocalyptic culture is a flagrant masking of the thought of extinction, as is the dialectic of resilience. Both post-apocalyptic narratives and dominant conceptions of resilience that are focused on saving the world occlude the apocalyptic possibility of not only another world but also abandoning our fetishized conception of the world.

Just as the cinematic experience of flirting with the end of the world only to see it saved reinforces that there can be no other world than this world and that ‘we’ are too big to fail, so the problem of how much we adapt, adjust, and sacrifice in order to remain resilient covers over the thought not only of what might take place after the end of this world but also of what might be possible if one contemplates those forms of existence that are constantly annihilated for the sake of saving the world. One might think of this annihilation on micro and macro levels: the ‘world’ today relies upon some lives not mattering, as though the value of the world required the non-being of many forms of existence (blackness being the most flagrant example). At a macro level, what has come to be known as the Anthropocene, which in turn intensifies the sense of the end of the world and saving the world, has always required the destruction of worlds (especially indigenous worlds).

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