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2016 Summer Seminar

multicolored scaffolding

Modernities: Old Problems, New Approaches

May 11-May 13, 2016

All sessions will take place at the Richard J. Daley Library, Room 1-470


LCSL Organizers:

  • Rosilie Hernández, Hispanic and Italian Studies
  • Michał Paweł Markowski, Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures


  • School of Literatures, Cultural Studies, and Linguistics
  • Hispanic and Italian Studies
  • Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures
  • French and Francophone Studies
  • Germanic Studies
  • Hejna Endowment for Polish Language and Literature
  • Institute for the Humanities
  • Richard Daley Library

Seminar Description Heading link

There has never been general agreement how to define Modernity, nor has there been a consensus about its temporal range. According to our institutional habits and structures, we discern Early Modernity from Modernity in the strict sense of the term, which begins with Enlightenment and continues to influence us despite all post-Modern proclamations of its death. There are as many Modernities as narratives conceived to capture its essence, or delineate a historical profile. But, what exactly is this “modern” feature that allows us to talk about Modern-ity (Early or Late) across time and space? Is there a common language we can use to talk about different Modernities, or we are, as often is the case, condemned to argue with each other through incommensurable idioms? Is—to use one of so many possible examples—the philosophical Modernity of German Hegel close to the literary Modernity of Polish Gombrowicz, or the artistic Modernity of French Manet? If there is an evident connection, as noted by Robert Pippin, between the first one and the last (through abstraction), what to do with the middle in this company, besides invoking Sartre or Bataille? If Cervantes is Modern, how does his Modernity match the Modernity of Balzac, or the Modernity of Cézanne? And how to avoid Eurocentrism in defining Modernity? Are Borges and Bolaño modern in the same way as their European models? Do art, philosophy, and literature go along the same—modern—lines, or do art and literature need a philosophical justification for their modern character? Adorno and Horkheimer (also Zygmunt Bauman) were ready to conflate Modernity and the Enlightenment, and yet is there a room in this paradigm for Romanticism or other—earlier or later—cultural formations? If there is, as Antoine Compagnon suggests, a notable core of anti-modern writers and thinkers from the 19th century on, can we also think about other paradigms such as Anti-Modernities? These questions motivated by the plurality of Modernity across historic time, disciplines, and cultural landscapes will provide a conceptual framework for our second LCSL Summer Seminar to take place May 11-May 13, 2016.