Distinguished Egyptian American author and critic Ihab Hassan on the importance of the humanities.
Our Next Seminar
The Writing & Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney
warmly invites you to its first research seminar for 2014
Chris Fleming on
“Cabal of Babylonian Aliens Behind JFK Assassination!" Writing Conspiracy, Explaining the World.
Friday 7 March
Building 3.G.55, Bankstown Campus
At one level, the act of engaging in a conspiracy is a banal, quotidian feature of being human. Anyone who has ever organised a surprise birthday party has thereby been involved in a ‘conspiracy' of sorts. The contemporary era, however, has seen an unprecedented expansion both in the popularity and the explanatory scope of conspiracy theories. Bestselling books now purport to give the real story behind every sociopolitical event of modernity – some of them suggesting covert links between Babylonian myth, the British Royal Family, JFK, global Zionism, and reptilian alien overlords. Far from representing the views of a minority, there is considerable evidence to suggest that such theories have many more current subscribers than do ones derived from the likes of Durkheim or Foucault. This paper will take a look at the kinds of writing that we call 'conspiracy theory', as well as those self-proclaimed ‘defenders of the Enlightenment’ who oppose it. In so doing we will see not only what is at stake in the debate about (what might be called) ‘folk sociology’, but what this kind of discourse reveals both about the world we live in and the resources we usually deploy to explain it.
Dr Chris Fleming, holds a BA/BEd with 1st Class Honours from the University of New South Wales and a PhD in Humanities from the University of Western Sydney. Before coming to UWS, Dr Fleming taught at the University of Technology and the University of New South Wales, and has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is currently Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and is a member of the Writing & Society Research Centre. He is the author of Rene Girard: Violence and Mimesis (Polity Press, 2004) and his new book, Modern Conspiracy: The Importance of Being Paranoid, co-authored with Emma A. Jane, is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Academic in August 2014.
Our seminars are free and open to visitors from outside the university. If you want to come along to one of our seminars simply RSVP by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating which seminar you wish to attend.
2012 Seminar Program and Recordings
Our 2012 seminar program included papers from Centre members and esteemed visiting scholars. You can view our 2012 seminar program and listen to recordings of our seminars.
2011 Seminar Program
Alongside the work of Centre members and students the 2011 seminar program featured papers by visiting scholars including-
- Valerie Henitiuk (University of East Anglia) Optical Illusions? Literary Translation as a Refractive Process,
- Teresa Stoppani (University of Greenwich) Dust reversals. Dustings, vacuum cleaners, (war) machines and the disappearance of the interior,
- Ira Raja (Dehli and La Trobe Universities) The Elevating Influence of Friendship: Interiority, Sisterhood and Marriage in late 19th century India
- David Damrosch (Harvard University) The Globe Writes Back: Englishes Today
- Hanifa Deen (author) Ali Abdul vs the King: Muslim Stories From the Dark Days of White Australia