Decolonizing the University


Invited Lecture by Dr Daniel Hartley (Durham University)

26 May 2021, 6-7.30pm BST online (booking required)


We will be joined by Dr Daniel Hartley (Durham University) for a research lecture and discussion. Titled “From Aesthetic Education to Anti-Imperial Literacy: On the Early Marx, Raymond Williams, and Decolonizing the University,” Dr Hartley’s talk will begin with a close reading of key passages from Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts, identifying a logic of aesthetic education that also informed Marx’s early theory of revolution, traces of which can still be found in the Grundrisse and Capital. In particular, it holds that for Marx the unfolding and / or redistribution of objective wealth is a necessary but insufficient condition for communism; it must be accompanied by a process of mass education that develops the subjective capacities necessary for the non-alienated appropriation and enjoyment of new objects. The second part of the talk then turns to a little-studied presidential address to the Classical Association given by Raymond Williams in 1984, entitled “Writing, Speech and the ‘Classical.’” This address develops a theory of anti-imperial literacy that will be read as a nuanced and detailed example of the process of aesthetic education implicit in Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts. The talk will then conclude with some brief reflections on the ways in which Marxist, cultural materialist frameworks might contribute to contemporary debates on decolonizing the university, whilst provisionally connecting those debates to a somewhat alternative historical and theoretical trajectory.

This talk has developed out of two of Dr Hartley's recent publications – "The aesthetics of non-objectivity: From the worker’s two bodies to cultural revolution" in the Italian Journal of Aesthetics (2021) and "Anti-Imperial Literacy, the Humanities, and Universality in Raymond Williams’s Late Work" in Raymond Williams at 100, ed. Paul Stasi (2021). 


Speaker Bio:

Dr Daniel Hartley is Assistant Professor in World Literatures in English at Durham University. His research focuses on literary style, ‘world literature’ and the historical sociology of modernity. Daniel’s first book, The Politics of Style: Towards a Marxist Poetics (Brill: 2017), developed a systematic theory of literary style through an immanent critique of the work of Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson. Daniel has since continued to refine his thinking on style in articles for Poetics Today, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory, and Textual Practice.


You can visit our CCL YouTube channel to watch the recording of Dr Hartley's guest lecture and Q&A or preview below.


Featured image by UCL Occupation under a CC BY-SA license.


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