Work, Laughter, Power, Liberal Arts

    5th open faculty research seminar.

    November 17, 19.00-21.00

    Address: ul. 8 Marta, 2/1

    Free admission, everyone is welcome. The seminar is conducted in English.

    Seminar program


    Anne Mulhall

    (PhD in Comparative Literature (Cultural and Critical Theory focus), King’s College London, Great Britain)

    “Work in Crisis in the French Literature of the Office”

    Focusing on the office novel of the past twenty-five years in France, particularly on two recent narratives of French office life, La Vie commune (Salvayre, 1991), and Les Heures souterraines (de Vigan, 2012), my presentation will show many of these novels articulate a kind of bodily momentum or overflow that gestures towards a refusal of the labour culture that they describe. Emerging in the texts through diverse forms such as illness, madness, depression or breakdown, these bodily responses display a reclamation of personal affect, and an almost redemptive refusal of certain cognitive labour infrastructures. What I will argue, further, is that the kinds of personalized corporeal refusals described in these texts also bring to light a crisis at the heart of traditional forms of organized resistance and solidarity in the French workplace. Finally, in interrogating some new theorizations of dissent, including the French philosophical collective Tiqqun’s recent concept of the ‘human strike,’ my presentation will show how the contemporary roman d’entreprise engenders new forms of “Bartlebyism” and offers escape routes beyond over-identification with labour apparatuses.


    Peter Jones

    (PhD in History, New York University, USA)

    “Laughter & Power in the Medieval West. A History in Four Objects”

    Laughter became an exceptionally powerful force in medieval Christianity. From the mid-1100s miracle collections began telling stories of laughing resurrections, histories described people being killed for making blasphemous jokes, and hagiographies showed saints laughing while they predicted the future. At the very same moment, humor became a vibrant topic of philosophical, theological, and political debate throughout Europe. By the early 1200s, it became a favorable subject of monastic treatises, miracle collections, and biblical glosses, while writers at the great medical schools of Salerno and Montpellier began diagnosing laughter as a healing power within the body.

    Why did laughter become so powerful at this moment in time? And how did the philosophy of religious humor develop in the centuries between the First Crusade and the Black Death? Outlining the fluctuating relationship between laughter and power in the Middle Ages, this research seminar will focus on four different objects — a devotional cross, a holy water relic, a friar’s codex, and a pilgrimage badge — as ways of unlocking humor’s changing social, political, and devotional dimensions. In the process, I will also uncover the surprising history of how Christian authorities attempted to limit, engage, and ultimately redirect some of the most intimate passions of ordinary people.


    Surendra Bhandari

    (Ph.D. in law, University of Kansas, USA)

    “Glimpses on My Past Research 2010-2017 and Linkages to Liberal Arts Studies”

    Focusing mainly on Legal Philosophy, Governance, and Global Issues, Surendra has authored more than a dozen books, more than six-dozen research articles, more than two-dozen reports, drafted almost two-dozen laws and policies, contributed almost 300 articles for national newspapers, and appeared for dozens of interviews on the national TVs. Indeed, Governance and Global Issues also form one of the important components of Liberal Arts Studies at the School of Advanced Studies (SAS). Applying a methodology of Welfare-Grundnorm (WG), Surendra’s Doctorate in Juridical Science (SJD) research explicated the intricacies of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in making international trade rules. His findings, among others, suggested the application of WG by policy makers and negotiators for successful conclusions of international negotiations and law making. His SJD research was honored with a CALI award for excellence in research.