“Now… now… now (…) here, now, yes, believe me, I believe in ghosts.”
-- Jacques Derrida in ‘Spectrographies’
I am a writer and PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. In my dissertation (work title: Learning to Live with Ghosts) I look at fiction writing as an exploration of the bodily and the influence of this imagined (literary) body on the discursive formation of disorders, diseases, and other pathologies. My academic research is based in an interest in medical case histories and offers a close reading of 'The Case of George Dedlow' (1866), a fictitious medical case written by the Philadelphian physician Silas Weir Mitchell, in which a Civil War veteran is reunited with the ghosts of his amputated legs. The story, orignally published in The Atlantic Monthly, resulted in Mitchell's introduction of the medical term 'phantom limb', still in use today. My research and interest into 'body writing' has extended into autobiographical writing after a period of serious illness and a double lung transplant in 2017.
Generally speaking I am interested in the many lives of language, the 'spark of being' (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein) effected by writing.
In a non-academic context I have edited and written for various art publications such as Frieze, Metropolis M, and Ixiptla.
Interdisciplinary workshop 3-6 July 2015, Hiddensee, Germany
During this 4-day intensive interdisciplinary workshop, organized by Moosje M. Goosen (ASCA, University of Amsterdam) and Andrea Zittlau (North American Studies, University of Rostock), we will bring together a group of max. 20 people from different fields (arts, humanities, sciences) at the extraordinary location of Hiddensee island to exchange and formulate ideas about absence.
In our present day what “matters” to us socially, economically, and scientifically seems once again driven by matter and measure, i.e. by visibility, evidence, quantification, solvability, etc. In such a worldview absence might well become absent from our thinking. Nevertheless, absence – always without essence – keeps being with us in meaningful ways, destabilising our ontological certainties and sense of being. And indeed, one may ask, “What is sensed when we sense an absence?” For absence is often a sensation, or an experience of the senses.
Following Jacques Derrida’s critique on the privilege given to presence and being, with this four-day interdisciplinary workshop we propose to un-focus on the many presences of our contemporary existence, so that absence may enter our view. The Matter of Absence is an attempt to brainstorm and speculate collectively: in bringing together diverse readings and understandings of absence, we hope to facilitate a discussion that will enrich each respective research and projects.
Please send a 250 word abstract describing how you encounter or deal with absence in your (academic/scientific/artistic/literary) work by January 15, 2015, plus a biography (max. 300 words) to Moosje M. Goosen (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands): firstname.lastname@example.org and Andrea Zittlau (North American Studies, Rostock University, Germany): email@example.com.
Places are limited to 15 participants.