CCA Pragmatism - Tom Lamarre and David Bates

When:  Monday, April 10, 2023, 03:30pm

Where:  Online

Category:  Center for Cultural Analysis

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A conversation with Tom Lamarre and David Bates (facilitated by Kurt Spellmeyer)


In Spring 2023, the Pragmatism Working Group will be hosting series of conversations with old friends of the group to talk about new work in the field from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. As one might expect given shared interests, there is remarkable overlap in topics covered by our guests, and yet there is also something of a structural hole between disciplines. The idea behind the conversation series is to try to creatively bridge that gap. How do these new studies register across fields? What are the common threads of interest? What lines of resistance or continuity develop when cutting between them? Where might interesting new strands of conversation lead?

David Bates teaches Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. He works on the history of legal and political ideas, and the relationship between technology, science, and the history of human cognition. He is now completing a book, An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence, that probes the emergence of human thinking as an entanglement of machine technologies, somatic processes, media practices, and social/political organization.

Tom Lamarre, Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations at U Chicago, who insists that he is a historian of Japan by training, has recently translated a number of works on speculative philosophy from the French. These include David Lapaoujade’s William James: Pragmatism and Empiricism (Duke, 2019) and Isabel Stengers’s Making Sense in Common: A Reading of Whitehead in Times of Collapse (forthcoming).

Kurt Spellmeyer, Rutgers English, served as Director of the Writing Program from 1985 to 2021. He is the author of Buddha at the Apocalypse: Awakening from a Culture of Destruction (2010); Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the Twenty-first Century (SUNY Press, 2003); The New Humanities Reader (Houghton-Mifflin, 2002); and Common Ground: Dialogue, Understanding, and the Teaching of Composition (Prentice Hall, 1992), which won the Ross Winterowd Award in 1993.


Brad Evans, a co-founder of the CCA Pragmatism Working Group in 2016, is a specialist in 19th and 20th century American literature with a background in the history of anthropology. In his recent book, Ephemeral Bibelots: How an International Fad Buried American Modernism, he uncovered the relational predilections of a diverse cadre of writers and artists who played a role in a largely forgotten and strangely unpredictable craze for proto-modernist little magazines in the U.S. at the end of 1800s.

Elisa Tamarkin, Berkeley, English, has agreed to co-conduct the year’s activities. We will be discussing her second book, Apropos of Something: A History of Irrelevance and Relevance, out last July with the University of Chicago Press. She is now turning to Melville and questions of "questions of visibility and consciousness in literature, art, and life."