Foucault’s Flu, Rinderpest, and the Birth of Animal Politics
The Oregon State University School of Writing, Literature and Film opens the “Critical Questions” lecture series season with “Foucault’s Flu, Rinderpest, and the Birth of Animal Politics” by OSU associate professor of English Raymond Malewitz.
Malewitz’s lecture provides a new origin story for what the French philosopher Michael Foucault called “the birth of biopolitics” in the mid-18th century.
“While the term biopolitics is typically associated with the management of human populations,” Malewitz argues, “this new mode of governing was influenced by early 18th century European efforts to control outbreaks of a devastating disease called rinderpest in cattle population. Examining this history and cultural documents from the period, including the work of Jonathan Swift and Ned Ward, the talk reveals a new model of human-animal biopolitics that continues to shape contemporary national and international responses to viral pandemics.”
Malewitz is an associate professor of English in the School of Writing, Literature and Film, where he teaches courses on literature and science, environmental literatures and United States literatures. He is the author of “The Practice of Misuse” (Stanford University Press, 2014). His recent book project, provisionally titled “Epizootic Encounters,” presents a cultural history of animal diseases and their management from 1711 to the present. An excerpt from this project was published in “Critical Inquiry” in summer 2019.
The “Critical Questions” lecture series has brought prominent scholars in literature, rhetoric and film to OSU since 2009. In addition to the public talk, the invited speakers meet with graduate students to discuss the genesis of their work, the state of their field as they see it and the cultural relevance of scholarship in the humanities.
Wednesday, October 28 at 5:00pmVirtual Event