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Lecture by Gauri Viswanathan - Secrecy, Conversion, Historicity

Gauri Viswanathan, Columbia University
Thu March 12th 2009, 3:00pm
Both events take place in Building 460, Room 429 (Terrace Room).

"My paper argues that H.P. Blavtsky’s occult writings set the stage for speculations about crypto-conversion, conscience, and responsibility, which subsequently engaged Derrida, among other thinkers. I look at how the concept of the secret is deployed in such work to signal the histories that have been occluded in the course of religious change." 

The lecture is preceded by a workshop at 10 a.m.

Gauri Viswanathan is Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.  She has published widely on education, religion, and culture; nineteenth-century British and colonial cultural studies; and the history of modern disciplines. Her most recent article is “Secularism in the Framework of Heterodoxy” published in PMLA (2008). She is the author of Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (Columbia, 1989; Oxford, 1998) and Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, 1998), which won the Harry Levin Prize awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association, the James Russell Lowell Prize awarded by the Modern Language Association of America, and the Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Prize awarded by the Association for Asian Studies. She is also the editor of Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said (Vintage, 2001), as well as a special issue of ARIEL: A Review of English Literature (2000) on “Institutionalizing English Studies: The Postcolonial/ Postindependence Challenge.” Prof. Viswanathan’s current work is on modern occultism and the writing of alternative religious histories. She has held numerous visiting chairs, among them the Beckman Professorship at Berkeley, and was most recently an affiliated fellow at the American Academy in Rome. She has received Guggenheim, NEH, and Mellon fellowships, and was a fellow at various international research institutes.

Contact Name
Cosana Eram