On Crime, Crowds, and the City: Poe, Dickens, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche

Amsterdam | 7 March 2019

ASCA/NICA Masterclass and Lecture by Jeremy Tambling, organized by Ben Moore

Date/Time/Location: March 7th 2019. Masterclass at 13.30-15.30 in PC Hoofthuis 6.25. Lecture at 17.00-18.00 in PC Hoofthuis 1.04.

Abstract: This event explores the relationship between crime/the criminal and the city, in relation to a range of mainly nineteenth-century authors: Poe, Dickens, Collins, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, Stevenson, but also James Joyce. The main theoretical approach is drawn from Nietzsche, and Klossowski’s readings of him, and from Freud. The masterclass and talk link crime as transgression with the idea of writing (especially writing the city) as transgressive, where writing is understood as an attempt to produce the ‘new word’ that Raskolnikov speaks of when justifying crime and transgression in Crime and Punishment. Baudelaire’s prose poems and Joyce’s writing are taken to be examples of this new word, or movements towards it, which exerts a price in the case of Joyce, as seen in the arguments raised about schizophrenia in his writing. Conceptualisations of criminality in the writers mentioned above are compared to Nietzsche on the pale criminal from Zarathustra, and what Freud discusses when he thinks of ‘criminals from a sense of guilt’. In both cases, questions of identity are at the heart of the discussion: crime as fixing identity; crime as escape from rationalising forces which define what the subject is.

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