Monday, April 8, 2013

Lecture: "Outsider Art/Outsider Theory"

Jonathan P. Eburne, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and English, Penn State
April 11, 5–6PM
Traditional Reading Room, Bertrand Library
Outsider Art/Outsider Theory takes up the tendentious category of the outsider to examine the production and reception of errant, unfashionable, or otherwise unreasonable thinking throughout the twentieth century. Throughout the past century, thought systems such as paranoia, schizophrenia, and delusional, as well as the various incarnations of mysticism, new age holism, hermeticism, and pseudoscience, have, with some justification, been excluded from the sphere of truth-production. Yet such forms of unreason have just as often been taken up as cast aside by other intellectuals, who recognize them as something other than curiosities or aberrations of thought. Such heterodox systems, and the tangled corpus of thinkers bound up with them, have fueled new directions in critical thinking and offered paradigms for frustrated or persecuted intellectuals. Much as the notion of l’art brut (or outsider art) acknowledges forms of artistic creativity once considered negligible or merely the source-material for truly great artists, my notion of outsider theory seeks to enrich the fields of intellectual and critical inquiry we know as theory by devoting serious attention to marginal thought.