“Hosting the Stranger”

Most philosophical attempts to understand the role of the Stranger – human or transcendent – have been limited to standard epistemological problems of other minds, metaphysical substances, body/soul dualism and related issues of consciousness and cognition. This seminar intends to take the question of hosting the stranger to the deeper level of embodied imagination and the senses (in the Greek sense of aisthesis). It will ask such questions as: How does the embodied imagination relate to the Stranger in terms of hospitality or hostility (given the common root of hostes as both host and enemy)? How do we discern between projections of fear or fascination, leading to either violence or welcome? How do the five physical senses relate to the spiritual senses, and most especially the famous ‘sixth’ sense, as portals to an encounter with the Other? How do humans ‘sense’ the dimension of the strange and alien in different religions, arts and cultures? Is there such a thing as a carnal perception of alterity and verticality, which operates at an affective, pre-reflective, pre-conscious level? What exactly do ‘embodied imaginaries’ of hospitality and hostility entail and how do they operate in language, psychology and social interrelations (including racism, xenophobia and scapegoating)? How do notions of empathy, sympathy, bodymapping and unconscious fantasy inform an aesthetics of the stranger, which registers the liminal space where the Self encounters Others? And what, finally, are the topical implications of these questions for an ethics and practice of tolerance and peace?

Week 1 | Richard Kearney

Richard Kearney discusses the genealogy of the definition of hospitality and the stranger that influences the Western concept of hospitality.

Hospitality is not going to be treated… as some kind of abstract virtue, or concept, or convention, but rather, as a drama — a drama of risks and wagers of what we are going to be calling the ‘embodied imagination.’

Week 2 | Glorianna Davenport

Glorianna Davenport discusses her practice and the concept of hospitality in interactive transformational environments.

It’s a type of expression where there’s not a lot of history…by making the work you understand a little more the role of modern communication — that is digital, and networked, and interactive — and our embodied imaginations that allow us to understand the world…

Week 3 | Kalpana Seshadri, James Bernauer, and Susan Michalczyk

The panel discusses the concept of the self the other, the outcast, and the scapegoat.

Hospitality cannot entail estrangement… the wager, as I understand it, is to risk everything and to seek the community of singular universalities. (K Seshadri)

Week 4 | Ellen Winter

Ellen Winter discusses making sense of — and responding — to the other: what development psychology can tell us about how these abilities form.

Understanding other minds is not the same as empathy, an outsider status may affect even our aesthetic judgement, and a preference for our own kind develops in infancy. But… culture is shifting what we see as the other.

Week 5 | Anne Davenport and Richard Kearney

In their talk ‘The Sixth Sense: Portal to the Stranger.’ Richard and Anne discuss interpretations and concepts regarding the series of six European Middle-age tapestries The Lady and the Unicorn.

Why is the state of prayer our supreme state — our supreme ethical state? Because in that state we understand ourselves to be beggars, welcomed at every instant into God’s tent… but consequently profoundly in touch with the needs of the whole rest of the universe…

Week 6 | Chris Yates, Elizabeth Purcell, and James Taylor

The panel discusses Bernhard Waldenfels, Derrida, and topics along the theme of the stranger as an enemy or friend.

The arrival of the stranger, the guest, or perhaps the enemy, will upset the balance of our egocentric existence. Because this event is so pregnant with provocative possibilities … [Derrida & Waldenfels] are looking at it as a summons to our fundamental being. (C Yates)

Week 7 | Pamela Berger and Matilda Bruckner

Pamela Berger discusses themes of hospitality in her film Killian’s Chronicle and the Book of Judges. Matilda Bruckner discusses the intertwined nature of hospitality and hostility through the lens of Jewish and Christian holiday tradition.

… Linguistic and textual, through the religious and philosophical, and on to the social, political, and sexual dimensions … as they intersect and – I think — inevitably link together from the perspective of hospitality… (M Bruckner)

Week 8 | Fanny Howe and Amy Hollywood

Fanny Howe and Amy Hollywood discuss themes surrounding ‘Sacred Eros, Hosting Uninvited Guests’

Week 9 | Mike Civille, Regine Jean-Charles, and Tina Klein

The panel discusses ‘Hospitality and Hostility: Racial Stereotypes of Asians and Africans,’ and screens a video by Michael Civille, Eung-Jin Lee.

Week 10 | Dorothy Cross

Dorothy discusses her art, practice, and themes along ‘Strangers of the deep.’

Week 11 | Dr. John Michalczyk and Fr. Raymond Helmick

John Michalczyk and Raymond Helmick discuss ‘Across Borders: Alien Nations.’

Week 12 | Paul Mariani and Christopher Ricks

Paul Mariani and Christopher Ricks discuss the poetics of the stranger.

Week 13 | Ali Banuazizi, Stephen Pfohl, Noam Chomsky

The panel discusses ‘Aliens, Strangers, Monsters’