Lecture by Carla Freccero: "Figural Historiography: Dogs, Humans, and Cynanthropic Becomings"
Carla Freccero, U.C. Santa Cruz, Building 460, Terrace Room. Followed by a lunch workshop on February 13 (see separate listing).
This paper argues for a queering of temporality that would undo nationally circumscribed and periodized fields of literary study in order to work through topoi--discursive commonplaces--that haunt texts across historical eras. The case study involves cynanthropy, the merger of human and dog; it takes as its starting point the Columbian New World encounter, from reports of dog-headed cannibals to accounts of the devouring dog as the ubiquitous companion/weapon of Spanish colonizers; and concludes with the attack of Diane Whipple by two Presa Canarios in San Francisco in 2001. This symptomatic figure--itself already haunted by long histories--repeats itself, travels between and among subjects and objects, and condenses in itself a whole series of New and Old world meanings, from companion to cannibal, primitive savage to savagely civilizational. In order to understand the historical and affective work such figures do, Freccero argues, we must make use of fantasmatic historiographies whose temporalities resemble psychoanalytic understandings of the working of time as subjectivity and affect more than they do the time of progressivist history.