ReadingRoom

ReadingRoom is a local Terra Critica practice in Utrecht with the collaboration of Casco Art Institute. It is open to anyone interested in careful close readings.

ReadingRoom is meant to create an open and inclusive space for substantial and meaningful conversations in the humanities, the arts and beyond.

ReadingRoom is open to anyone interested in careful close readings. It strives to create an open and inclusive space for substantial and meaningful conversations in the humanities, the arts and beyond. We are convinced that reading can help crystallize our critical questions. What are we driven by? What are we striving for? Who are “we”? Together, in the shifting constellations of ReadingRoom, where new people join each time while also many return regularly, we can refine those questions and sharpen our understanding of this world, our practicing in this world. In that sense, reading is an active intervention into our present, a shared practice that sharpens our senses and enables new affective communities.

ReadingRoom holds one thematic series per year, with 4-6 meetings per series. Each time we base our conversations on a few key texts from a wide range of disciplines. Over the course of 2019, ReadingRoom also issued four installments of a newsletter, each collecting our thoughts and questions after a session. The newsletters are published in issue # 11 of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest. By clicking on the following links, you can also find the individual newsletters we made: #1 April 2019, #2 June 2019, #3 October 2019 and #4 November 2019.

Our current, seventh series is called Going Viral; or what just happenend?

ReadingRoom was interrupted by Covid-19 in March 2020. We are excited to finally return with a new series now, in the fall of 2021. Given the unprecedented circumstances of the global pandemic, this series called Going Viral; or What Just Happened?  wants to resist the urge to move forward and ‘past’ things all too quickly. Perhaps ReadingRoom can instead be a space to reflect together on what happened or, more precisely, on what is still happening. Can we think about who or how we are, living in times of Covid-19? Can we think-read-feel together about the experiences of loss and change during the past year-and-a half; about what to do with our diverging efforts of digesting those experiences; with the grief and mourning that might be in place, but has not found much of a place in the ‘returns to normal’ as we see them around us? Can we learn how to speak with each other again and perhaps thereby find ways of collective grieving and working through? Those are the questions on our minds for the seventh series of ReadingRoom, which started off in November 2021.

 

Session One

Tuesday, 23 November 2021, 17.00-19.00

Our first session was based on Laurent Berlant’s work. We read the “Introduction. Affect in the Present” from Berlant’s Cruel Optimism (2011). Berlant’s text helped us think about affect, public space, optimism and situations of crisis. By engaging with Berlant’s work, we also commemorate the loss of this wonderful thinker.

Session Two

Wednesday, 9 March 2022, 17.00-19.00

Our second session will engage with Douglas Crimp’s piece “Mourning and Militancy” (October, vol 51, 1989). If you are interested in joining, please register by sending an email to info@terracritica.net by February 18.

The sixth series of ReadingRoom was running from October 2019 to January 2020, entitled It is Time… It continued to study CPC (fifth series) and considered how we can thread a critique of the on-going environmental destruction into our critical understanding of CPC. It is Time… to re-imagine futurity (or temporality itself), to invent new languages to speak different ecologies of living.

The fifth series of ReadingRoom was running from October 2018 to June 2019, entitled Reading Rosa, pink & other colors. It studied the interlocking systems of capitalism – patriarchy – colonialism, which we dubbed CPC. As this series coincided with the centennial of Rosa Luxemburg’s violent death in 1919, we started with her analysis of how a capitalist economy cannot sustain itself without simultaneous colonial expansion as well as a patriarchal societal foundation. Moving forward and backward in time, the series then looked into Black feminist critiques of CPC as well as “the family” as one of its incubators. Our fifth series resonated with Casco’s exhibition Terre Thaemlitz: Two Rubatos (8 March – 12 May 2019).

The fourth series of ReadingRoom was running from February to June 2018, discussing un/learning: the p/re/distribution of knowledge. This series asked how we host, organize and maintain knowledge and, more broadly, took up questions concerning access to, institutionalization of and the distribution of knowledge in its many forms. This series was in part inspired by the exhibition project The Library of Unread Books by Heman Chong and Renée Staal at Casco Art Institute (26 November 2017 – 25 February 2018).

The third series of ReadingRoom was running from September 2016 until May 2017, discussing WHO CARES? Politics and Poetics in the Affirmative. We studied feminist, decolonial and aesthetic interventions ‘in the affirmative’ into our contemporary planetary situation – especially looking at alternative spaces of education, activism and art and pursuing affirmation as a promising poetico-political tool to pass from mere opposition and negation to space-opening refusal.

The second series of ReadingRoom was running from September 2015 to February 2016, discussing relationality – envisioning new wor(l)dings. Relationality is one of the fundamental conditions of critical assessments and interventions today and has been very productively theorized in Caribbean thought and poetics. We engaged mainly with Fanon, Glissant and Wynter.

The first series of ReadingRoom was running from December 2014 to May 2015, discussing speculation & fabulation – critique in the SF mode. We looked at the theory and diverse forms of science fiction, reinvesting in imagination and speculation as crucial affective-critical tools for our present.

ReadingRoom participated in the exhibition @ Casco titled Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, which ran from Friday 26 May 2017 and through until 16 July 2017. To learn more about this project please click here.

ReadingRoom has received financial supported from the national research schools of Gender Studies (NOG) and Literary Studies (OSL) and by Aspasiagelden Diversiteitsbeleid.

 

New Publication

The Ends of Critique. Methods, Institutions, Politics
edited by Kathrin Thiele, Birgit M. Kaiser and Timothy O'Leary (forthcoming)

 

Symptoms of the
Planetary Condition

A Critical Vocabulary

 

ReadingRoom

co-organized with Casco Art Institute
seventh series starting fall 2021

 

New Critical Humanities

Book Series
What does it mean for the humanities to be critical today?