The Humanities Initiative at NYU will host its annual conference on Friday, November 19 and Saturday, November 20 at 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor (between East 5th and East 6th Streets).
The conference, “Ambience in the Humanities: Translating New Surroundings into New Poetics,” is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. For more information, call 212.998.2190. For a complete schedule of sessions, click here.
Geoffrey Harpham, president and director of the National Humanities Center, will deliver the keynote address, “How America Invented the Humanities,” on November 19 at 4 p.m.
With sounds, voices, music, images, and written codes of all sorts saturating today’s media environment, humans lend their ears and eyes to abundant and seemingly free-floating worlds of social and sensory information. The intensity of this information calls for different models of poetics that figure the artist not as a lone fabricator constructing and reconstructing a singular tradition, but rather as an antenna, receiving and rebroadcasting atmospheres of experience.
From everyday life to extreme conditions of constraint, from suburbia to the warzone, how does the sensing self record—consciously or unconsciously—the ambience of these zones and spaces?
“Ambience in the Humanities: Translating New Surroundings into New Poetics” will include a series of roundtable discussions with writers, composers, performers, and critics to consider not the influence of a particular tradition or canon, but rather the influence of particular material surroundings. What does New York—as a crowded, built-up urban environment—mean for punk rock musicians in the early 1970s? How do the sounds of warfare affect soldiers and civilians in past and contemporary war zones? How do the symbols and images of pop culture get rearranged as signs of political allegiance? How do all the arts reflect the conditions of their production—not only in a political economic sense but also in the sense of sensing itself—the social materiality of exterior information?