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Lost Unicorns of the Velvet Revolutions:Heterotopias of the Seminar

Heterotopias of the Seminar

Miglena Nikolchina

Publication Year: 2012

This book examines the eastern European seminar of the late 1980s and early 1990s-an ongoing academic meeting place outside the formal rubric of the university-tracing its evolution into a social movement on the street and identifying the political force of the theoretical conversations that took place there. It also shows how these theories reflect the loss of socialist idealisms and established materialist frameworks that eventually evolved into a set of heterotopic visions with a fundamentally altered sense of materialism. It provides both glimpses of a genuinely alternative world to the Western academy that its denizens are so prone to critique, one in which oral discourse and dialogism were especially prominent values, and a utopian view of the Western intellectual world from that now-lost space.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. vii

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pp. ix

This book began at a moment of biographical crisis— which, as I came to see it later, was a splinter from the clash between utopian and available worlds— as a sort of personal letter to a friend, the historian Joan Scott, to whom I wanted to explain what I could not really figure out myself: namely, how I got into this crisis at all. She was the single most important force that...

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pp. 1-11

In her preface to Between Past and Future, Hannah Arendt writes, apropos of the French Resistance but also in terms of the history of revolutions per se, of the “lost treasures of the revolutions.” One has good reason to believe that these trea sures, which seem to have no substance and no name, never existed: “Unicorns and fairy queens seem to possess more reality than...

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1 The Seminar: Mode d’emploi: Impure Spaces in the Light of Late Totalitarianism

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pp. 12-42

Th e seminar? In Bulgaria? In the 1980s? Who would care about this? Yet over and beyond the nostalgia that drives the survivors into incessant squabbling over the fossils of the seminar,1 there is the major mystery that the seminar— from its restricted elitist inception in the late 1970s to its spilling over from the bursting university auditoriums into street action and clashes...

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2 The West as Intellectual Utopia

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pp. 43-68

Could the lost treasure of the “velvet revolutions” in Eastern Europe be a lost utopia—or, rather, could it be the loss of utopia? Socrates, Plato, and Marsilio Ficino; Foucault and Derrida; Lotman and Mamardashvili coalesced into a single bright star, which, what ever the temporal and geographical odds, shone westward. This was the star of a shimmering lure, of an enticing...

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3 Between Irony and Revolution: Sexual Difference and the Case of Aufhebung

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pp. 69-87

Among its various meanings, Aufhebung signifies, on the one hand, annulment, destruction, cancellation and, on the other, preservation, conservation. In his reflections on the term, Hegel points out the word’s capacity to embrace precisely these two opposite sets of meanings, turning this capacity into an example of the unique philosophical advantages and the “speculative...

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4 An Unfinished Project: Man as Comedy

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pp. 88-108

References to Simone de Beauvoir’s celebrated first sentence of the second book of The Second Sex—“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”1— frequently ignore the claim Beauvoir makes earlier on that “woman is not a completed entity, but rather a becoming.”2 Beauvoir’s point in emphasizing woman as becoming is thus not reducible to the problematic of...

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Addendum: The Discretions of Inverted Theory

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pp. 109-125

In one of his discussions of the uncanny, Mladen Dolar notes that “in order for the mirror image to contain the object a, a wink or a nod is enough.”1 Imagine, he suggests, that you look at your image in the mirror and the image closes its eyes. In what follows—a supplement rather than a conclusion—the startling occurrence of such a wink in Julia Kristeva’s novel...


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pp. 127-148

Works Cited

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pp. 149-161


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pp. 163-173

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246366
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823242993
Print-ISBN-10: 0823242994

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2012