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Announcing the SOF Spring 2023 Thursday Lecture Series Theme: Failure

Announcements, Fellows, SOF Fellows

January 19, 2023
B&W photograph of an individual reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

Continuing on the work and success of the 2017 Center for Science and Society and SOF/Heyman conference, The Success of Failure: Perspectives from the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, Education, and Law, the Society of Fellows has selected Failure as the theme for the spring 2023 edition of the Thursday Lecture Series.


Spring 2023 Thursday Lecture Series: Failure
Comment from the Fellows:

This lecture series is preoccupied with failure: the failure to meaningfully address the climate crisis, to regulate capitalist greed, to ban guns, to repair systemic racism, to stop wars. The responsibility for these failures do not fall on the shoulders of all people equally. While some benefit from these failures, at least in the short run, others suffer. Scholars have grappled with the notion of responsibility and complicity with respect to failure extensively. Less scholarly attention has been paid, however, to the emancipatory potential of failure. After all, the telos of success, grist for the capitalist mill, undermines revolutionary change. At the same time, the notion that failure can also be something systematic, structural, or inevitable is antithetical to the ethos of capitalism, which depends on the reification of the individual, celebrates “merit,” and posits a causality between good behavior and good outcomes. Can the inevitability of failure signal a different set of liberatory politics? Does the heightened awareness of failure signal a possibility to overcome “reckless optimism,” as Barbara Ehrenreich described? Does it make room for “a hope not hopeless but unhopeful” in our “twilight civilization”, as Cornel West proposed? Does the inevitability of failure license authoritarianism or invite empathy?

Full Spring TLS Lineup
All events take place in the Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room and online via Zoom. More information and registration at the links below.

February 2
Freedom in Transition
Speaker: Lea Ypi, London School of Economics and Political Science
SOF Fellow: Ege Yumusak

February 23
Black Against the Rainbow: An Azanian Afropessimist Critique of Frank Wilderson's South Africa
Speaker: Panashe Chigumadzi, Harvard University
SOF Fellow: nyle fort

March 2
The Republic Betrayed
Speaker: Alberto Vergara, Universidad del Pacífico (Lima, Peru)
SOF Fellow: Renzo Aroni

March 9
The "Failures" of Liberal Capitalism and the Racial Regime of Religion in Late Colonial Algeria
Speaker: Muriam Haleh Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz
SOF Fellow: Youssef Ben Ismail

March 23
Make Your Own Job: Success and Failure in the Depression-Era United States
Speaker: Erik Baker, Harvard University
SOF Fellow: Leah Aronowsky

March 30
The Manufacture of Failure: How "Africa" (De)Constructs The "West"
Speaker: Imane Terhmina, Cornell University
SOF Fellow: Veronique Charles

April 6
Failed Kinship and the Brown Commons
Speaker: Manu Chander, Rutgers University
SOF Fellow: Atsede Makonnen

April 13
On and In Their Bodies: Masculinist Violence, Criminalization, and Black Womanhood in Trinidad
Speaker: Leniqueca Welcome, George Washington University
SOF Fellow: Emma Shaw Crane

April 20
Abandoned or Washed Away?: Make (Big) Opera Listen to You
Speaker: Nina Sun Eidsheim, University of California, Los Angeles
SOF Fellow: Knar Abrahamyan