Susan Buck-Morss to deliver Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture

Internationally renowned scholar and author Susan Buck-Morss will deliver this year’s Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture titled “Global Imagination Against Global Power.”

Left: Susan Buck-Morss

Professor of political philosophy, social theory and visual culture in the Department of Government at Cornell University, Buck-Morss will discuss connections between aesthetics, democracy and the global public sphere at 3pm, Sept. 27 in the Senate Chamber, N940 Ross Bldg.on York’s Keele campus.

Buck-Morss stimulated many debates among progressives with her latest book, Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left (Verso 2003). In it she approaches the field of Islamism as a matter of politics instead of religion and calls attention to the ways it has served as both a critique and a legitimization of Western political and cultural hegemony. Her research aims at finding ways to move left-wing discourse beyond critique and toward alternative political solutions to world problems.

Her work on the Frankfurt School of philosophical thought is considered essential reading for students of critical theory. This school of thought, a diverse body of neo-Marxist social theory, was started in The Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute of Social Research) as part of the University of Frankfurt in Germany in 1923.

Right: The Institute for Social Research

Buck-Morss’ books include The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodore W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt Institute (Free Press, 1977), The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (MIT Press, 1989) and Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (MIT Press, 2000). She has also written several influential essays, including “Aesthetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin’s Artwork Essay Reconsidered” (October, Fall 1992) and “Hegel and Haiti” (Critical Inquiry, Summer 2000).

About Ioan Davies

Ioan Davies taught at York University from 1972 until his sudden death on Feb. 15, 2000. He helped establish the African Studies Program, the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought, and the Joint Graduate Program in Communications and Culture.

Right: Ioan Davies

Davies, whose memory is honoured in this annual event, shared with Buck-Morss an appreciation of the work of Walter Benjamin and taught graduate courses on aesthetics and contemporary critical theory in the Department of Social and Political Thought in the Faculty of Arts at York. A major contribution of both scholars’ work is their investigations of art and aesthetics in the context of political theory. Like Buck-Morss, Davies explored art and popular culture in terms of what kinds of opportunities they offer for common political action.

Along with his distinguished academic career, Davies was also a journalist, managing editor and founder of the journal border/lines, and author of several works of fiction. He explored links between cultural expression, everyday life and political practice in his books, Cultural Studies and Beyond: Fragments of Empire (Routledge, 1995), Writers in Prison (Blackwell, 1990) and Social Mobility and Political Change (Pall Mall, 1970).

This year’s event is made possible by the generous support of the following donors: York University’s Bethune College, Council of Masters, Communication and Culture, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Division of Social Science, Global Culture Flow, Department of History, Department of Political Science; as well as Baumgartjenkinson, and Target coaching.