I was lucky enough to host Haun Saussy, Olga Solovieva, and their three children in Dunedin during September and October. As the 2014 University of Otago De Carle Distinguished Lecturer, Haun delivered four brilliant public lectures in Dunedin, the first two of which are now available to download from the links below. The first lecture gives listeners/viewers a sneak preview of his book-length investigation into the rise of the concept of orality in twentieth-century thought.
“Oral vs. Written: The Curious History of a Cultural Distinction,” 18 Sept. 2014, MP4, MP3. Though it has become part of our common-sense understanding, the idea of a deep and comprehensive difference between the ways of thinking in predominantly oral and predominantly written cultures dates to the early twentieth century, at the most, and received its impetus from polemics now largely forgotten. By retracing this history, we can work out a genealogy for media studies that will accommodate a larger definition of the human.
“Doctoring the State: Plato, Hobbes, Humboldt, Hegel, Virchow,” 22 Sept. 2014, MP4, MP3. Western political philosophy, at its beginning (Plato’s Republic), introduces an analogy between medical treatment and political reform that, like all metaphors, has consequences on both the supposedly different domains that it incorporates. As long as the metaphor is viewed as a mere analogy, however, the practical relation of medicine to state survival is obscured. The historical development, through a series of political theorists, some of them physicians, explains the in-between status of the field of public health.
The photo above shows Haun and Olga with Zhang Longxi and Ulrich Timme Kragh, who also visited Dunedin in October for a symposium on comparative literature and interdisciplinarity. Recordings were also made of Haun’s and Longxi’s talks from this event and they should be available for download soon.
While in Dunedin, Olga also generously gave two wonderful talks on Kurosawa and Russia––from her forthcoming book on the subject. The image below is from her first talk, to Otago’s Department of Media, Film and Communications.