Attending the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell over the summer was a unique and enriching experience. Eduardo Cadava’s seminar on Genealogies of Memory and Perception: Literature and Photography gave me the opportunity to explore one of my core interests: how literary texts intersect with mediated discourse and how media memorialize historical contexts. Over six weeks we debated questions about the nature of representation, reproduction, memory and forgetting, history, images, perception, and knowledge. We read texts by Nadar, Baudelaire, Bergson, Breton, Kracauer, Benjamin, Barthes, Carson, Ritsos and Derrida. These texts generated discussions about photography, but also about the ways in which the critics themselves draw on the language of photography. The stimulating discussions opened new insights about how new forms of technology such as digital media use recurring motifs from history to petrify ideas of death and memory.
Besides the seminar I attended, the mini-seminars and the weekly public lectures given by eminent scholars like Homi Bhabha, Veena Das and others offered an intellectually unique experience. These seminars opened opportunities to meet and share thoughts with faculty and scholars from across the world during the six weeks. Being part of the SCT also meant interacting with scholars participating in three other seminars taught by eminent faculty and making connections across disciplines.
Lastly, spending the summer in gorgeous Ithaca was memorable. The surrounding hills and natural landscape of Ithaca gave many opportunities for outdoor activities and it was great fun to explore trails and lakes around Ithaca. The SCT organizing committee arranged a trip to Lake Cayuga and an adjoining natural fall to give us a look at the natural beauty of the area. I am grateful to the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory at Illinois for making it possible for me to attend the Graduate Seminar at SCT and explore Ithaca.