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Excess/Eros/Ecology – Georges Bataille und die aktuelle Theorie

Tutors: Vanessa Engelmann und Philipp Bräuner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Supervising subject area: Prof. Dr. Iris Därmann, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

"Today we know it: Bataille is one of the most important writers of his century," is how Michel Foucault introduces the posthumously published complete works of the Parisian archivist, thus opening up a space of thought in which Georges Bataille becomes an important point of reference in 20th century French theory. But the writer, sociologist, and philosopher has also increasingly reappeared in current theoretical debates of recent years. Whether in the context of debates critical of capitalism or postcolonial Anthropocene studies, Bataille's concepts such as those of transgression, lower materialism, and heterology continue to attract attention today. In order to trace this resurgence and find possible connections for our research fields, we spent our first semester examining Bataille's work and its multi-layered reception. On the one hand, we traced the heterogeneity immanent in the work and, in this context, also considered the different genres in which Bataille moved. On the other hand, we have historically interrogated his texts and traced loose ends in theory and literature.

In two block courses in the summer we therefore read texts by Bataille (The Outlawed Part, The Erotic, History of the Eye), theorists who received his work (including Michel Foucault, Achille Mbembe, Kathryn Yusoff), but also authors who can be brought into resonance with Bataille, especially in the fields of materiality and poetry (including Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, Audre Lorde). In the following winter semester, the research work was continued with focal points set in the group, so that in the end we were able to record and present our results in the form of a small magazine.

Email: philipp.braeuner@hu-berlin.de