March 17 | Formalism and Violence Masterclass with Eugenie Brinkema at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis

Published on: March 14, 2023

Despite the recent appearance of various “new formalisms” in literary, film, and visual studies amidst a broader, transdisciplinary “return to aesthetics,” there is robust disagreement and tension in critical accounts of what form is (or what forms are); what reading for form does (or might do, or cannot do); and the value of formalism for the humanities. Nowhere are these debates more acute than on the terrain of violence, where attention to formal, aesthetic, and structural workings of texts seem to operate in an almost defiant indifference to ethical and political concerns.

This workshop will approach this subject from two directions simultaneously: we will read and unpack two very different approaches to formalism (one emphasizing its theoretical affordances, one emphasizing its theoretical disaffordances) and tease out a range of different ways in which scholars use the term “form,” distinguish form from aesthetics, articulate form’s relationship to politics, and defend reading methods that rely on a (re)turn to form. Then we will consider the special case of violence, inquiring as to what happens when violence is formalized and treated as a matter of topology, attending to what such an approach critically makes available and possible, and what such an approach critically forecloses.

Register here…