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Pajus Distinguished Visitor Wes Williams lecture: "Des conditions qui s’entrecherchent/ conditions that enter-seeke one another’ (Montaigne/Florio): humanities researchers and/as public goods"
5 - 6:30 pm
French Department Library (4229 Dwinelle)

By way of a speculative reading of Montaigne’s brief essai ‘D’un defaut de nos polices’ (I, 35), I hope to open up discussion about why we variously, and collectively, engage in research in what we (now) call the humanities.

Montaigne’s essai threads together an elegiacally charged set of reflections on how people, working for and with each other across the social spectrum, seem to need, try, and fail to invent new forms of structural association and infrastructural support. But ‘d’un defaut de nos polices’ is not only a story of opportunities missed; it is also an expression of practical, political hope, which affords important perspectives on a range of urgent, pressing, pointed questions, today.

Drawing on various aspects of my own experience, illustrated with images and short films of some recent collective creative experiments in research in community, I hope to explore ways in which Montaigne’s writing might encourage us to imagine ‘enter-seeking’ as a distinctive form of practice, generating contemporary forms of public good.