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Conferences & lectures

Narrative, Aesthetics, and Politics in the Work of Hannah Arendt (Dr. Ewa Ziarek)

Thursday, February 9, 2017
2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Dr. Ewa Ziarek, University of Buffalo


This event is free


Emilia Angelova
514-848-2424 ext. 2517


Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex
1515 St. Catherine W.
Room EV 11.705



Dr. Ewa Ziarek, University of Buffalo Dr. Ewa Ziarek, University of Buffalo

Arendt famously claims that political action “‘produces’ stories” the way other activities, such as work, produce objects. As connected with action, storytelling relates to natality as action’s ontological condition. What kind of a story is created by action, in Arendt’s sense of the word, and what kind of a narrative is capable of manifesting the condition of natality with its three interrelated meanings–the enactment of a new beginning in history, human plurality, and the disclosure of uniqueness through words and deeds?

First, I will assume that any narrative created by action is also an act in its own right, which enables a new beginning, and can be understood in multiple ways: as a new interpretation of actions, as a new interpretation of historical events, or as the very capacity to create a new beginning through language. Second, such narrative discloses the uniqueness of actors. And finally, stories produced by action retrospectively reveal its meaning and this implies a crucial role of memory. Consequently, a narrative capable of manifesting the condition of natality negotiates between seemingly incompatible tasks: it at once participates in the politics of commemoration and constitutes a new event; it negotiates between the singularity and plurality of actors; it contests determinations of history and the erasure of the events from the past.

A narrative in this sense departs from the politics of representation, or the legitimation of the dominant history, or a preservation of the status quo, and foregrounds instead discontinuous temporality between past and future. To develop an Arendtian approach to narrative outlined above, I will try to weave together her dispersed reflections on the narrative disclosure of uniqueness; on memory, and temporality; on artwork and its relation to the world.

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