Seated woman speaking at an FRN event while other attendees listen attentively

Knowledge: A Critical Reflection on Modernity and its Certainties

Modernity gave rise to the idea of the rational human who knows and can wield knowledge to master self and their surroundings. Such thinking has been the cornerstone of imperial projects and colonial endeavors. It has also been the driving force of racial capitalism and the Anthropocene—and climate change. The violence unleashed by this conception of the human (who can know and master) and of the non-human (that can be unraveled and instrumentalized) has been catastrophic to the extent of threatening our collective survival. Yet, there are those who, grounded in traditions of being and thinking otherwise, have been posing urgent questions about how we humans relate to ourselves and others. Their efforts open space for disavowed ways of inhabiting this world and invite critical reflection on modernity and its certainties.

This seminar will employ a feminist, abolitionist and decolonial lens to look at the production, circulation and storage of knowledges central to the experience of modernity. It will begin with an exploration of how the human who knows and masters was imagined into existence. And as the week progresses, the conversation will delve into the following questions: what sort of knowledge has this modern human produced, circulated, and archived? What are some of the limits and consequences of knowing? What does it mean to refuse to render ourselves and others knowledgeable? And, particularly for scholars, should ethics guide our narrative practices? Overall, the goal of the seminar is to heed the call to think carefully about what we think we know and to denaturalize knowledge that has worked to dispossess, extract and destroy.

Seminar Schedule. Seminars run Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a midday communal lunch. Seminar conveners may adjust the class schedule in response to participant needs. Special events may also be held during the week. Participants are required to attend the full week of seminar meetings and maintain 90% attendance overall.

Seminar Materials. Eligible participants are provided with all required seminar materials (books, articles, laboratory equipment, and entrance fees).

Accommodations & Meals. Limited housing accommodations are provided to participants who live more than 50 miles from the program site. All admitted participants are provided with some meals during the program period.

Application Procedure. Applicants should submit the completed application along with all of the following:

  • A statement of intent that indicates how the seminar participant will apply what is learned at the home institution
  • A current CV
  • A letter of support from either the division dean or department head, who is well-acquainted with the applicant’s area of research
  • Their institutional liaison officer’s approval