RELEVANCE & RESURRECTION: REFLECTIONS ON APROPOS OF SOMETHING
A talk by Elisa Tamarkin
Professor of English, UC Berkeley
Wednesday Feb 1, 2023 - Philosophy 302 @ 5:30 PM
Professor Tamarkin is a distinguished literary critic and intellectual and cultural historian, author of the much admired Anglophilia: Deference, Devotion and Antebellum America (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2008). Her recent book Apropos of Something: A History of Irrelevance and Relevance (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2022) is an excitingly original engagement with the “adventure” of relevance. Tamarkin probes the selectivity of consciousness, asking why “certain things come to matter over others,” tracking her inquiry across psychology, phenomenology, sociology, aesthetics and, especially, visual art. What triggers our spontaneous interest furnishes a rule of relevance, indeed, “finding relevance is in the nature of what it means to have an experience.” The social and political stakes of the aesthetics of perception are analyzed in Emerson, William James, Alain Locke, John Dewey, A.N Whitehead and the painters Winslow Homer, Henry Tanner, and Edgar Degas, among others.