The Critic and the Mime: J.Hillis Miller in Dialogue with Nidesh Lawtoo

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In this interview for the Minnesota Review, J. Hillis Miller and Nidesh Lawtoo take one of the most influential concepts in Western aesthetics, mimēsis, as an Ariadne’s thread to retrace the major turns in Miller’s career and, by extension, to promote a re-turn of mimesis in literary theory and criticism. More here .

Vibrant Mimesis: A Walk With Jane Bennett (Nidesh Lawtoo)

Part of a panel on Jane Bennett’s Influx & Efflux (2020) organized at Johns Hopkins University, ERC grantee Nidesh Lawtoo establishes a bridge between new materialism and mimetic theory. He argues that the influences internal to Bennett’s account of a porous self, tap into the unconscious powers of mimesis to induce sympathy towards (non)human others, along contagious lines central to the mimetic turn as well.

CFP on Posthuman Mimesis

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International conference, 20-22 May 2021, KU Leuven (Online) 

Keynotes:   Katherine Hayles (Duke University) & Kevin Warwick (Coventry University)

With the participation of Ivan Callus (U of Malta), Claire Colebrook (Penn State U), Vinciane Despret (ULB, ULiège), Francesca Ferrando (NYU), Stefan Herbrechter (Heidelberg University), Patricia Pisters (U of Amsterdam), Jean-Marie Schaeffer (EHESS), Stefan Lorenz Sorgner (John Cabot U)…

The ERC Project Homo Mimeticus: Theory and Criticism (http://www.homomimeticus.eu/) is pleased to announce an international online conference on the subject of “Posthuman Mimesis.” More details including submission guidelines here.

The Mimetic Turn: Reloading Mimesis (Nidesh Lawtoo)

In this opening session of the Homo Mimeticus Seminar (KU Leuven), PI Nidesh Lawtoo introduces some of the main concepts constitutive of the mimetic turn, or re-turn of mimesis in critical theory, including mimetic pathos, pathos of distance, mimetic patho(-)logies, and their relevance for the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Toward the Mimetic Posthuman (Carole Guesse)

As part of the Homo Mimeticus Seminar (KU Leuven), Postdoctoral researcher Carole Guesse (@CrlGss) provides a short introduction to the posthuman and its discourses: transhumanism and posthumanism. She then explores the various ways in which the posthuman – in both theory and (science) fiction – can be characterized as mimetic.

Reading Conrad in Catastrophic Times: The Mimetic Turn

In this video presentation for the 2020 Joseph Conrad Society (UK) Annual Meeting shot on the Furka Pass (Swiss Alps), ERC grantee Nidesh Lawtoo introduces the relevance of Conrad’s mimetic turn to face contemporary catastrophes like (new) fascist politics, viral pandemics, and climate change in the Anthropocene. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321…

The Case of Eichmann Restaged: Arendt, Evil, and the Complexity of Mimesis


In The Case of Eichmann Restaged, Nidesh Lawtoo reframes Hannah Arendt’s evaluation of the “banality of evil” in light of Eichmann’s mimetic psychology, which Arendt intuited but did not fully articulate.

Rather than considering the banality of evil as symptomatic of Eichmann’s “inability to think,” the essay foregrounds the affective, contagious, and, in this sense, mimetic tendencies at play in Eichmann’s personality (from Latin, persona, theatrical mask). This move is instrumental to articulate a middle path between Arendt’s theoretical diagnostic of Eichmann as “terrifyingly normal” and Bettina Stangneth’s recent historical account of Eichmann as a “fanatical National Socialist.” My wager is that the ancient problematic of mimēsis (from Greek, mimos, mime) casts a new and original light on the psychic foundations of a type of evil that is as relevant to understand the psychology of fascism in the past century as its rising shadow in the present century. Article also available here

Mimetologies: Mimesis and Music 1600-1850 by Daniel Villegas Velez (Forthcoming with OUP)

The HOM project is pleased to announce that Daniel Villegas Velez’s book, Mimetologies is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

Mimetologies examines the critical aesthetic concept of mimesis in the history of musical aesthetics. Two main interpretations of mimesis or, as this book calls them, mimetologies dominate aesthetic theory. On the one hand, mimesis is an aesthetic problem rooted in the distinction between copies and originals, as well as the creation of fictional worlds. On the other hand, mimesis involves a complex of neuro-psychological tendencies to copy or imitate others that characterizes the human as Homo mimeticus and which grounds the genesis of subjects and communities. These two mimetologies—one emphasizing vision and authenticity, the other affective contagion and becoming—run largely separate and music appears to have no place in either.  Yet, as this book demonstrates, music is at the origin of both.

Mimetologies continues an interrogation of mimesis initiated by Jacques Derrida and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (1976) and genealogical examinations of the role of mimetic behavior in the formation of subjectivity to highlight music’s function in mobilizing affective performance to shape communities. Adopting a long-term historical perspective that extends from ancient Greece through seventeenth-century Italy, eighteenth-century France, to early nineteenth-century Germany—with an ear to their resonances in Colonial Latin America—Mimetologies shows that mimesis has been a constant undercurrent in the history of modern music, especially at the moments when music and mimesis seemed most distant from one another. By revealing the role of mimetic musical performance between aesthetics and politics—mimesis as representation and mimesis as contagion—Mimetologies reintegrates music into the history of aesthetics, while providing new conceptual tools to critically think the role of music in Western society.




The cover of Mimetologies features Santiago Reyes Villaveces’s site-specific installation Harp (2019), developed in collaboration with the author and winner of the 41st Premio Matteo Olivero. Comprised of an expanded copy of a Baroque harp found in former Jesuit Missions in Colombia and transposed to the sacristy of a Jesuit church in Saluzzo, Italy, Harp reflects on the colonial mobilization of ancient Greek musical paradigms to (re)form communities in the “New World”. By examining how such humanist mimetologies are created and disseminated, this study amplifies contemporary critiques of Eurocentric values that shape the history of music in the West.

HOM Videos, ep. 5. Philosophy and Mimesis: Jean-Luc Nancy (Trailer)

In the fifth episode of HOM Videos, Nidesh Lawtoo meets French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy (U of Strasbourg) to discuss the ancient quarrel between philosophy and mimesis. Topics discussed include the relation between mimesis, myth, fascist politics, Lacoue-Labarthe, deconstruction and community.

HOM Videos, ep. 4: The Anthropology of Mimesis: Christoph Wulf

In this fourth episode of HOM Videos anthropologist Christoph Wulf (Freie U of Berlin) builds on his seminal book, Mimesis: Culture-Art-Society (with Gunter Gebauer) to discuss the centrality of mimesis in ritual festivals, both in Europe and in Japan, in the construction of cultural identities, and in education and social life more generally.