Counting/Recounting: 2019–2020 Lunchtime Talk Series

When supplied by the prefix of repetition, “re-”, the English “counting” (to compute) becomes “recounting” (to tell). This proximity between the numerical and the narrative also exists in other language families, too. Contemporary German exhibits zählen (to count) and erzählen (to recount, to tell). While the Latin re- and the German er- only occasionally perform similar functions, the broader linguistic valences of er- render visible something indeed inherent to  re- that often goes lost in English: these prefixes signal not just repetition, but also a return, a going back to the beginning, and, in the thoroughness implied by plotting back to some origin, a conceit of totality.

The notion of recounting thus opens onto a wide field of intersecting, if not often opposed, meanings. To recount means not only to narrate; not only to tally up; not only to posit a starting point and then to survey all that has elapsed from it; not only to audit, verify, and correct. To recount means all of these at once. To recount is to consider again what should count, that is, what belongs to a set, a history, or an interpretation.

This 2019–20 lunchtime talk series explores the intersection between the numerical and the narrative in order to question what agents, agencies, and accounts are privileged in the humanities. In what ways can tired narratives be refreshed, countered, or discounted with new and opposing stories? Are counter-moves themselves inevitably caught up by subversive force that drives them? In what ways can a focus on computation, calculation, and numeracy offer a forum to discuss intersectional encounters between histories of colonization and post-colonialism, technics and agency, subjugation and resistance, visibility and erasure, computation and aesthetics. Who is it that renders visible or invisible; what is exposed, what is left hidden; who, in the end, (re)counts? Does the operation of discounting necessarily imply a binary, or can it allow for a multiplicity of recounting?

Fall 2019

October 22

T'ai Smith, University of British Columbia

November 5

John Keene, Rutgers University-Newark

Spring 2020

February 12

Bernard E. Harcourt, Columbia University

April 14

VIRTUAL: Río Sofia, Visual Artist and Organizer

April 30

VIRTUAL: Cassils, Visual Artist
(rescheduled from April 1)

Ana Mendieta’s Silueta Series (1973–78)

Ana Mendieta’s Silueta Series (1973–78)