Another Humanism: Traditions of Critique and Resistance


Start date: Thursday 9 February 2023

Time: 09.00

End date: Friday 10 February 2023

Time: 17.30

Location: The Auditorium, Manne Siegbahn Buildings, Frescativägen 24E, Stockholm University

Welcome to an International Conference in Stockholm 9–10 February 2023.

Another Humanism: Traditions of Critique and ResistanceJan Davidszoon de Heem 1628, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

A common way to focus the study of the Humanist tradition is to trace from the Renaissance the rise of the autonomous and rational subject. Fully established by Kant, this type of subject is usually conceived as the terra firma (with Hegel’s description) for the instrumental scientific attitude and individualization, which characterizes modernity. This single-tracked narrative of the emergence of the modern subject has been more or less unchallenged even in critical scholarly treatments, be it in a defense of or as a critique of modernity. Posthumanism, ecological humanities, and new materialism have for instance recently reactualized the critique of the Cartesian rational and autonomous modern subject and its human exceptionality due to our current ecological crisis. However, present attempts to undo the idea of a sovereign subject mastering the world and its objects often oversee that in the early modern period alternative and diverse expressions of subjectivity flourished. Taking them into consideration could even benefit the post-anthropocentric turn in the humanities.

This two-days international conference aims to bring together leading international scholars and early career researchers to explore and share perspectives on the plurality of premodern subjectivities. By giving due attention to expressions that in unconventional and critical ways responded to or resisted the period’s dominating subjectivation of bodies, thinking and desires, we will offer a multi-disciplinary space that can illuminate the concept of humanism in new ways.



Conference Programme


Confirmed keynote speakers are:

Alison Calhoun, Associate Professor of French/Francophone Studies, Indiana University-Bloomington.

Another Descartes? Early Modern Drama and Cartesianism After 1650

Alison Calhoun is Associate Professor of French/Francophone Studies and Theater at Indiana University, where her research and teaching focus on early modern drama (theater, dance, opera, festivals), Renaissance philosophy, affect studies, Montaigne Studies, and the history of emotions. Professor Calhoun’s first book, Montaigne and the Lives of the Philosophers: Life Writing and Transversality in the Essais, explores the relationship between life writing and philosophy in Michel de Montaigne’s Essais. Her current book project, Technologies of the Passions on the French Baroque Stage, uses sources in early modern stage engineering to write theatre history back into debates about the human–machine boundary, artificial intelligence, and the physiology of emotions.

Zahi Zalloua, Cushing Eells Professor of Philosophy and Literature, Whitman College.

“Montaigne avec Žižek: The Inhuman Neighbor in the Self and the Friend”

Zahi Zalloua is the Cushing Eells Professor of Philosophy and Literature at Whitman College and Editor of The Comparatist. His recent work engages Critical Black Studies, the Posthuman, and the Palestinian Question. He is the co-author, with Ilan Kapoor, of Universal Politics, and the author of Being Posthuman: Ontologies of the Future, Žižek on Race: Toward an Anti-Racist Future, Theory’s Autoimmunity: Skepticism, Literature, and Philosophy, Continental Philosophy and the Palestinian Question: Beyond the Jew and the Greek, Reading Unruly: Interpretation and Its Ethical Demands, and Montaigne and the Ethics of Skepticism.

Online participation will be possible in the event of travel restrictions or the like.


Research project Another Humanism

The conference concludes the research project Another Humanism, Gendering Early Modern Libertinism and the Boundaries of Subjectivity that addresses the history of subjectivity through an exploration of female libertinism and freethinking in French literature 1500–1700.

About the project

The project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) for the Advancement of The Humanities and Social Sciences.