Revolution: From the Fictitious to the Real

With Avenali Chair Eelco Runia
2014-2015
Book Cover: Moved by the Past by Eelco Runia

Avenali Chair in the Humanities Eelco Runia is currently in the Department of History at the University of Groningen and chair of the Centre for Metahistory. Beginning with Victor Hugo’s remark that “a revolution is a return from the fictitious to the real,” this four-week seminar will consider how Hugo’s words fundamentally question what might be called the realist project and contain a thought-provoking theory about how sublime historical events come about.

In light of these considerations, this seminar will examine four suppositions: that the here-and-now may be less “real” than we like to think; that, conversely, the past may not be solely something of the past; that creating something as radically new as a revolution is an instance of moving forward by moving backward; and, finally, that the desire to reestablish contact with “reality” is an important mainspring for groundbreaking human action.

Texts will include W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz; Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring; Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte; Slavoj Žižek, “Robespierre, or the ‘Divine Violence’ of Terror;” and Eelco Runia, Moved by the Past.

This Fall 2014 seminar is listed in Comparative Literature, History, and Rhetoric and is open to all UC Berkeley graduate students. This course will meet on Wednesdays, 5-8pm, October 29-November 19, 2014. For current enrollment information please consult the department.