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Workshop by Katharine Young

In the Realm of the Senses: Evocation, Interiority, and the Fate of the Object in Ethnographic Writing

December 3, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Kelly Writer's House

Objectivity, making others objects, is not the ethnographic project. And it should not be. To seal other subjects up in their skins and alienate them from ourselves in the interest of a spurious scientism is to misunderstand the peculiar difficulties of intersubjectivity as the requirement that we write from elsewhere, from above or beyond the other, as if our subjectivity were somehow superior to theirs, as if it could encompass them. Writing this difficult intersubjectivity is ethnography's project. And in pursuit of this project, I propose two moves.

The first is evocation. Ethnographic writing can transport us elsewhere, evoke other realms of being. In respect of that undertaking, I shall examine, on the one hand, the aesthetics of asceticism: what do we get by austerity, spareness, paring away, showing the bones of things? On the other hand, I shall examine the sensuousness of cognition: how do we root thought in the body, abstraction in flesh? The second move is interiority. Ethnographic writing can acknowledge intersubjectivity, grant others the interiority we ascribe to ourselves. Here I shall consider anxieties of presence: what perturbs us about other minds? And I shall consider the fallacies of behaviorism: why have we addressed the problem of other minds by making interiority suspect?

What, in the end, can be written about another?

The workshop will include an abbreviated ethnographic exercise. Participants should prepare for this workshop by reading the chapter on "Perspectives on Embodiment," in Katharine Young, 1997. Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medical Discourse, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

 
Reading

Perspectives on Embodiment: part 1
Perspectives on Embodiment: part 2

 
Biosketch

Katharine Young is an independent scholar and writer in Berkeley, CA. Out of her training in folklore and philosophy, she has developed analyses of narrative in Taleworlds and Storyrealms: The Phenomenology of Narrative (Martinus Nijhoff, 1986), of the body in her edited collection, Bodylore (University of Tennessee, 1993), of medicine in Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medicine (Harvard, 1996), and of gestures in her current research on somatic psychology. She has taught writing in both the Anthropology and Rhetoric Departments at the University of California, Berkeley.

 
Registration Information

To register, send an e-mail to Veronica Aplenc vaplenc@sas.upenn.edu with your name, departmental affiliation, status in graduate program (e.g. in coursework; ABD and before research; in fieldwork; writing up), project title, and brief project description (short paragraph). If you wish to sign up for more than one workshop, please rank the workshops in order of your preference, so that we may accommodate as many registrants as possible with their first choices.


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