4: Powers of Vomit


26 Nov | 5.00-6.30pm | The Pack Horse, Upstairs Room, Woodhouse Lane

Please note the change of day and location for this session. In support of UCU strike action, our meeting will take place off campus at The Pack Horse pub on Woodhouse Lane, and we encourage all attendees to avoid crossing picket lines wherever possible.

For our fourth session of the year we will be reading 'Approaching Abjection', the first chapter of Kristeva's (arguably) most well-known text, Powers of Horror (1982), published in French as Pouvoirs de l'horreur (1980). In this text Kristeva theorises the abject and its associated affect, abjection. Drawing upon the scholarship of Georges Bataille and Mary Douglas, among others, and working within a Lacanian psychoanalytic framework, Kristeva interrogates the abject as 'the jettisoned object, [that which] is radically excluded and draws me toward the place where meaning collapses' (2). Kristeva's theorisation of the abject has been hugely influential in a range of fields, not least in discussion of horror films. Powers of Horror also marks a change in Kristeva's writing, with the sometimes dense prose of her earlier works being supplemented by poetic expression of complex concepts.

Alongside Powers of Horror, we will discuss an extract from Eugenie Brinkema's The Forms of the Affects (2014), in which she calls for a shift of focus in affect theory from embodiment and experience towards form, structure, and aesthetics, in order to develop a new mode of criticism she terms 'radical formalism'. In the extract we have chosen Brinkema traces the (mis)understanding of Kristeva's theorisation of the abject which has been employed in film theory, before analysing the function of vomit in the work of David Lynch.

As always, all are welcome and discussion will continue over a pint or two following the session.

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