Research presentations - TEUN JOSHUA BRANDT: 'Symbolic Narratives: Contested Agencies in Scientific and Literary Accounts of Human Holobionts' and ALESSANDRO DE LAURENTIIS: 'Character, Inner Life and the Tragic in Tozzi’s and Pirandello’s Short Stories'
|When:||Tu 18-04-2023 17:00 - 18:00|
|Where:||Room 1313.0338, Harmonie building|
Research presentations Theme Group Data Science, Culture & Social Change, DemCP, and chair group European Culture and Literature: Teun Joshua Brandt: Symbiotic Narratives: Contested Agencies in Scientific and Literary Accounts of Human Holobionts and Alessandro de Laurentiis, Character, Inner Life and the Tragic in Tozzi’s and Pirandello’s Short Stories
In these research presentations, two PhD candidates of the chair group European Culture and Literature will discuss their ongoing projects with the audience.
If you would like to participate, please email to f.j.lippert rug.nl
Teun Joshua Brandt: Symbiotic Narratives: Contested Agencies in Scientific and Literary Accounts of Human Holobionts
A growing body of research indicates that humans are holobionts: multispecies conglomerates consisting of a host and their symbiotic microbiota. Microbes inhabit every inch of the human body. They have coevolved with their host and are essential to its functioning. Dysbiosis, the disruption of the microbiome, may cause severe illness, such as obesity or cancer, as well as cognitive dysfunction and impairment. This scientific knowledge has not only revolutionized biological research, but also sparked profound philosophical discussions regarding the demarcations of biological entities.
This interfaculty PhD project aims to make the wider cultural expansion and impact of these scientific and philosophical developments visible. Drawing on new formalist criticism, as advanced by Caroline Levine, Janine Rogers and Michel Foucault, I ask what the holobiont concept affords (Levine) beyond scientific discourse—how it relates to the social world, what kind of thinking it makes possible, and what kind of order it enforces. Understanding how this scientific concept becomes narrated presents a crucial challenge in this regard. For this reason, I will extrapolate key narratives in both scientific and literary accounts of human holobionts. A body of recent science fiction works is challenging the long-standing narrative of microbes as ‘bad germs’ and the ever-evolving plot of the pandemic apocalypse by depicting humans as intricately interwoven with their microbial symbionts. The holobiontic characters in these stories struggle with their multitudinous nature, their compromised agency and their dependency on (unreliable) nonhuman symbionts. However, some of them may overcome their fears, accept that their bodies are a carrier for nonhuman others, and eventually bear the fruits of symbiosis. Such literary representations are crucial factors in the emerging cultural narratives of symbiosis for a non-scientific public.
Alessandro de Laurentiis, Character, Inner Life and the Tragic in Tozzi’s and Pirandello’s Short Stories
My research project deals with character, inner life and the tragic in Tozzi’s and Pirandello’s novelle. Tozzi and Pirandello are two of the greatest Italian storytellers of the twentieth century and, even if their novels are more studied, they also achieved remarkable results in the writing of novelle.
Anyway, as far as the novella is concerned, we should ask ourselves what are the specific features of the narrative that has been called modernist, even in Italy, since the early two thousand years (Somigli 2004). To reach this goal, we should pay attention to the theoretical writings of Tozzi and Pirandello, in which both compare the novella genre to the ancient Greek tragedy. Moreover, the focus of research should be that privileged by post-classical narratology: the study of fictional minds (Alber – Fludernik 2010).
Can the theoretical link with the tragic also be found in the writing practice of the two authors? And what happens to character’s mind representation when it is faced with the shortness of the novella? My research project aims to place these problems in a broader theoretical framework, testing their link with the view of the tragic that Tozzi and Pirandello deploy against Positivism and Naturalism.
About the speaker
Alessandro De Laurentiis earned his B.A. and M.A. in Modern Literature at the University of Pisa. From 2015 to 2020 he was a full student at the ‘Scuola Normale Superiore’ in Pisa. In 2019 he spent a study period at the University of Warwick (U. K.) as part of the ‘Erasmus+’ project, and the following year he cooperated with Prof. Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen) through the ‘Erasmus+ Traineeship’ program, deepening his knowledge of post-classical narratology. He is currently a double PhD candidate in Italian Studies at the University of Pisa and at the University of Groningen. His research project focuses Federigo Tozzi and Luigi Pirandello’s novelle, analysing their fictional minds representation and the revival of the tragic.