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Poetonomy of Speculation Seminar

Poetonomy of Speculation Seminar

A block seminar offered for class of Hito Steyerl, and researchers of the Graduate School UDK, Berlin led by Anke Hennig, Marina Vishmidt and Anthony Iles

Two day Seminar
10-5pm / 28 and 29 June 2013

Room 203
Graduiertenschule für die Künste und die Wissenschaften
Universität der Künste Berlin
Einsteinufer 43-53

10587 Berlin

This seminar and workshop explores the concept of ‘speculation’ via contemporary theoretical perspectives and exposes these insights to literary and artistic experiments with a particular focus on writing. We will seek to explore how literature can illuminate contemporary philosophical thought and illuminate problems of form and determination in an extra-literary sense.

Over two days we will establish a framework for thinking through the stakes of financial, philosophical and artistic speculation drawing on the philosophical work of Quentin Meillasoux, Reza Negerastani, Elie Ayache and Alfred Sohn-Rethel. With reference to recent contemporary art, film clips and literary examples from the work of Jorge Luis Borges, Jan Potocki, Viktor Shklovsky, Anne Boyer, Andrei Platonov, Sergei Tretyakov and others we will work together to try to bring the terms: Objects/Things, Speculation, Fiction, Imaginary, Contingency, Realism, Formalism and Materialism into sharper focus.

Literature is neither solely style nor sign; rather, it is knowledge of the world. Thus, poetics can be speculative when its philosophical reflections consider the poietic function of language. Language and literature are part of the world and contribute in turn to our understanding of it. The relationships between objects do not differ from those between cognitive subjects and their respective objects. Literary thought means therefore situating natural language, literary artefacts, and poetic thought on a single plane.


Reading Materials

Elie Ayache, ‘The French Theory of Speculation: Part 1 The Necessity of Contingency’ pt.I, Wilmott Magazine, pp. 20-23.

Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote’, in Labyrinths, London, 1964.

Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous-Materials, pp.VII-XX, 3-5 (contents), pp.87-97 (Dustism), pp.123-128 (Thing).



Anke Hennig is based at the Osteuropa Institut and Peter Szondi-Institut for Comparative Literature Berlin Freie Universität she is currently a researcher within the project Speculative Poetics


Marina Vishmidt has recently submitted a PhD on Speculation as a Mode of Production in Art and Capital.

Anthony Iles is an associate researcher at UDK Graduate School.