2015-2016 Series

The Desert of the Real

In 2015-16, COMMA hosted a year-long investigation of the desert’s arid affordances and apocalyptic imaginaries. As sites of political and aesthetic revolution, deserts solicit alternative modes of viewing, thinking, and being. The series featured a film series, reading groups, and talks by scholars who traversed terrains both rich and desolate.

George Miller’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

May 27, 2016 at 1:00 in SH 2714


Please join us for the final meeting in our 2015-16 series, “In The Desert of the Real” with a screening of the second film in George Miller’s Mad Max series. Set in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape, the film interweaves themes of war, energy, resource scarcity, and environmental justice.

Red Deserts: A Color Without Substance” 

A talk by Tarek Elhaik

April 8, 2016 at 1:00 in SH 2623

Please join us as we continue our 2015-16 series, “In the Desert of the Real” with a talk by Tarek Elhaik (Department of Anthropology, UC Davis). This talk stems from a series of encounters with artists whose “Earth” is grounded in what Elhaik calls a “geo-curation.” Among these artists is Michelangelo Antonioni whose 1964 classic Technicolor film Red Desert will as our point of departure. By combining anthropological theories of color (Taussig, 2009; Levi-Strauss, 1964) and Deleuze’s meditation on Antonioni’s “geophysics,” the talk remediates and reconfigures Earth as an enduring form and “incurable-image” (Elhaik, 2016) of the so-called Anthropocene.  By assembling images from Red Desert alongside those of Robert Smithson’s earthwork Spiral Jetty (1970) and Tareq Teguia’s film Inland (2008) Antonioni’s geo-curation emerges as a       human practice that inhabits the world as a desert without a substance.

Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu (2014)

Feb. 26, 2016 at 1:00 in SH 2635

Please join us as we continue our 2015-16 series, “In the Desert of the Real” with a screening of  Abderrahmane Sissako’s award winning film, Timbuktu (2014). Inspired by a public execution, Sissako’s film   offers a gritty exploration of cultural conflict resulting from the occupation of Timbuktu by a jihadist faction. As always, we will reserve time after the film for discussion and pizza will be provided.

Nacer Khemir Wanderers of the Desert (1984)

Feb. 12, 2016 at 1:00 in SH 2635

Please join us as we continue our 2015-16 series, “In The Desert of the Real” with a screening of the first film in Nacer Khemir’s “Desert Trilogy.” Set in a small town on the edge of an immense desert, Wanderers of the Desert interweaves myth and dream in order to explore tensions between modern and traditional values.

2014-2015 Events

Jed Esty, “Modernist Worlds at War: Wells, Welles, Spielberg, and Anglo-American Paranoia”

October 22, 2014

troops and flowers slider

Please join COMMA on Wednesday, October 22nd @ 4pm for our kick-off event of the 2014-15 academic year as we welcome Jed Esty, author of Unseasonable Youth: Modernism, Colonialism, and the Fiction of Development (Oxford 2012) and A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England (Princeton 2004). He will be sharing new research regarding the War of the Worlds across media, from H. G. Wells, to Orson Welles, to Spielberg.

This event will be held in South Hall, room 2714. Refreshments to follow.

2013-2014 Events

Jane Garrity, “Vanessa Bell’s Sartorial Primitivism”

April 11, 2014

vanessa bell omega

Jane Garrity is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Her research focus is on early 20th-century British literature, with a special interest in: modernism and empire; gender and sexuality studies; cultural studies.  She is the author of Step-Daughters of England: British Women Modernists and the National Imaginary (Manchester University Press, 2003); the editor of a special issue on “Queer Space,” ELN: English Language Notes (Spring 2007); and the co-editor, with Laura Doan, of Sapphic Modernities: Sexuality, Women, and National Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). She is currently at work on a book titled Material Modernism: Fashioning Bloomsbury. Her talk considers the effect of primitivism on avante garde fashions produced by Vanessa Bell’s Omega Workshop.

“Shifting Ground” — Southern California Irish Studies Consortium Conference

March 8, 2014

In 1988, Edward Said, Fredric Jameson and Terry Eagleton spoke in Ireland in a series sponsored by Field Day on postcoloniality and Irish literature, culture and society.  This was just over a quarter century ago, and much has changed since.  The coming SCISC conference aims to take stock of some of these changes, to consider how critics of the new Irish and global order can approach  the shifting grounds of contemporary culture, and to explore how the past might be reimagined in the light of recent changes.

Participants Include: David Lloyd (UC Riverside), Gregory Castle (Arizona State), Laura O’Conner (UC Irvine), and Catherine Flynn (UC Berkley)

Download the SCISC schedule 2014 (pdf).

Glyn Salton-Cox, “Red Rhetoric and Parrhesiastic Politics: Foucault’s Late Lectures in the Mid-Century” 

December 3, 2014

UCSB English’s new faculty, Glyn Salton-Cox, shares some of his current research on how the figure of the parrhesiast — the “truth-teller” of Ancient Greece who Michel Foucault discusses in his 1984 lectures — can help us read contemporary revolutionary culture. This talk supplements the COMMA reading group’s ongoing discussion of Foucault’s final writings.

2012-2013 Events

2011-2012 Events

2010-2011 Events