Miriam Ambrosino - ‘Using Feeling: Engaging Aesthetic Experience in Phenomenological Practice’
This episode of Season 5 of the BSP Podcast features Miriam Ambrosino, New York University. The presentation is taken from our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online.
ABSTRACT: In her essay, “The Difference of Feminist Phenomenology: The Case of Shame,” Bonnie Mann (2018) contends that feminist scholarship in all areas of philosophy is up against “an affective problem, not a cognitive one.” Mann calls attention to the “problem of reverence” that prevents philosophy—especially feminist phenomenology—from considering new methods of theorizing and interpreting. Following Mann's claims and Alia Al-Saji’s (2014) work on affective hesitation, I investigate how contemporary thinkers can attend to and thus reconfigure their affective commitments of reverence towards the white male canon in phenomenology. I argue that part of this project involves using one’s affects as a mode of critique. For phenomenology to open up to cross-disciplinary dialogue, it must recognize that critique is sufficient at the level of self reflection and transformation of habitual modes of feeling and perceiving. I read Aimé Césaire epic poem, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, as a case study that demonstrates my methodology of using affect in critical phenomenological practice. I explicate how the rhetoric of disgust in this poem can catalyze a critical and ethically responsive phenomenological reduction for myself, a white reader. I claim that this experience of disgust in reading resonates with Merleau-Ponty’s (1945) account of wonder, vis-à-vis Eugen Fink, as “perhaps the best formulation of the reduction,” a reflection that “reveals the world as strange and paradoxical.” Guiding this methodology is Louise Rosenblatt’s (1969) transactional theory of literary criticism, inspired by John Dewey’s pragmatism. Through my case study I clarify how this theory provides a framework for engaging phenomenology with lived aesthetic experience to facilitate transformative affective work on one’s affective commitments.
BIO: I am a masters student at NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. My individualized course of study examines affects-broadly including sentiments, feelings, sensations- as they are theorized across disciplines such as in philosophy and literature. I build from my undergraduate degree in philosophy at Fordham University in which I began studying philosophy of emotions and contemporary French philosophy. Though my central discipline is in philosophy, I develop my research on affect studies and critical phenomenology through my graduate coursework in literary criticism and critical race and gender theory.
This recording is taken from the BSP Annual Conference 2020 Online: 'Engaged Phenomenology'. Organised with the University of Exeter and sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. BSP2020AC was held online this year due to global concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. For the conference our speakers recorded videos, our keynotes presented live over Zoom, and we also recorded some interviews online as well. Podcast episodes from BSP2020AC are soundtracks of those videos where we and the presenters feel the audio works as a standalone: https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/bsp-annual-conference-2020/
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